Category: finals

Day One Hundred Eighty-Five

Today was the last day of finals. I didn’t have any to give, and my grades were done yesterday, so I spent the morning cleaning my room (read: scraping gum off the bottoms of tables ew), updating my syllabi for the fall, that sort of thing. After that, I took everything off the ninth grade house bulletin board I’m responsible for, and made sure the kids in the club I advise had done the same with their bulletin board (they had). 

As a thank you gift for all the work we did during the reaccreditation process this year, we were treated to a free lunch, which was delicious. It was a nice day, so everyone hung out on the picnic tables outside the cafeteria afterwards. There’s a little basketball court there, too, so it wasn’t long before a few of the guys I work with started a game of Horse. 

Obviously, I had to join them. 

Now, here’s the thing: I wear dresses and high heels to work nearly everyday, and today- despite it being the students’ last day- was no exception. I was looking fancy. So everyone got a kick out of it when I stepped onto the court and proceeded to drain my first shot. What’s even better is that the SRO- who is a big, young, athletic guy- was the next to shoot, and he totally missed. 

image

I didn’t end up winning, but I did acquire one heck of a cheering squad (which included all the female administrators in the building, naturally), and finished in a respectable third. It was tons of fun.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Four

Students in both of my Block 4 classes (A day, followed by B day) wrote their final essays today. The A day students came in and crushed because that’s just how they roll; there were no questions, no one needed help, everyone finished with time to spare… And, hey, that’s fine by me because it gave me time to grade the exams I had leftover from yesterday. I had been planning to do that once students left (exam days are half days for them), so it was great to get an earlier start on it. 

The B day students needed a bit of a pep talk before they started writing their essays, and some reminders to use the notes/outlines they’d prepared, and that’s fine, too. Finals are new for these ninth graders, and they can be nerve-wracking, so it’s understandable when students need reassurance. Fun thing: I’d taken a picture of a student’s outline on my phone because he was worried he’d lose it; he was frantic when he came in today because, well, he’d lost it, so I held up my phone and he shouted, “Oh, thank God!” I think he’d forgotten I’d taken the picture. 

Anyways, while they wrote/typed their essays, I walked around, fielded questions, offered encouragement, etc… I had one student whose average was juuuuust below passing, and he knew he needed to score high on the final, so I sat down and graded his essay as soon as he handed it in. I’m going to hang onto the memory of the smile that lit up his face when he realized he was going to make it. 

I’m going to hang on to a note from one of my A day students, too. Teachers are all familiar with a student like this; he was a fly-under-the-radar, “school isn’t my thing” kid whose grades were always fine, but never stellar, because fine didn’t take any effort. As the year went on, though, his grades went up, his participation in class increased, and by February or so there wasn’t a block that went by without him asking half a dozen questions about whatever we were discussing that day (he started saying “thank you” at the end of every class, too, which was lovely). The note he wrote was tiny, scrawled in the back of my yearbook: “thank you for teaching me the most this year.” 

This year has been HARD. That? Made it all worth it.

I graded today’s exams after lunch, and I actually finished all of them. So that’s it. Students have take their Block 5 exams tomorrow, but I don’t teach Block 5 classes, so I’m done. I submitted my grades before I left today. 

That wasn’t the end of my work day, though! I had to head to one of the elementary schools in the district for my first executive board meeting as a union rep. Not going to lie: I felt really out of my depth for most of the meeting- and I haven’t felt that way in my professional life in a long time- but I will learn. This is going to be quite an experience.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

So, the other day, Mr. B emailed me to ask me if I’d be willing to be a building rep for the teacher’s union. I didn’t respond with my immediate reaction, which was, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” I took some time to think it over. Mr. B has been my mentor for years, so the fact the he was the one asking was partially why I eventually said yes. There was an election, but I was running unopposed, so it was all but official at that point. Today it’s actually official. 

That’s probably the biggest thing that happened to me today. It was the first day of final exams for the underclassmen, and I had no exams to give, so my day was pretty quiet. Exams are scheduled so that students take two each day with a half hour break in between and lunch after. Today, they took the exams for their Block 1 classes, and I don’t have any (APUSGOV was on A days- and seniors took finals last week- and my prep time was on B days).

I spent most of the morning cleaning out my classroom, except for the hour or so when I was in a team leader meeting with Mrs. C, Mrs. R, and The Vice Principal. I didn’t realize how full my file cabinets had gotten until I decided to go through them and clear the clutter. Now they’re mostly empty because everything is digital. No need for old curriculum binders, or anything like that.

I had lunch with Mr. W, Mr. F, and Mrs. T. We went out of the building for that; I’d gotten a gift certificate to a local restaurant from a student, so we spent it, and talked about the year, and relaxed… When we got back to school, Mrs. T and I graded Multi-Genre Projects with Mrs. T; we each take half of the projects, so the grading is quick, easy, and awesome. I know I keep saying the students’ work is amazing… but it really is. The level of detail on some of these projects is phenomenal.

Oh, and this one fun: one of the boys on the football team had asked for an extension on the project (he needs to pass World and English in order to keep his eligibility for fall sports, so making sure he had time to do well was great and responsible), so he had to print everything out and hand it in today. He showed up with five of his teammates in tow, and they were chanting his name the whole time he was printing pieces, and when he handed me everything they burst into applause.

Gotta love a supportive team, right?

This afternoon, I got invited to a house party by one of the many presidential campaign staffers I keep in touch with (APUSGOV networking). He’s got one of my incoming GOV students- a girl who was in World with me two years ago- interning on the campaign, which is awesome. He couldn’t say enough good things about her. Helping to run a house party is a huge thing, so it was really neat to see one of my students taking that on. I’m super proud of her.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Three

Well. My streak of not crying ended this morning. 

I think the emotion just built and built. I didn’t have any exams to give- I was just grading the ones I gave yesterday- so my door was open, and a bunch of my ninth grade students came by to say thank you, they loved my class, they’re going to keep paying attention to the world and believing they can change it… 

Then one of the rising juniors in my merry band of activists came to talk about life and campaign work (which I LOVE that she’s doing), and possibly setting up an independent study with me in the fall.

Then the last busses left the school, and the faculty went out to wave. Yeah, two kids flipped us off, but a bunch waved and cheered back, so that’s a positive on the whole. 

Aaaand then I went to my mailbox and found the most amazing note from one of my APUSGOV students, and bwaaaaah. Totally burst into tears in the mail room… I will never be able to convey how lucky I was to teach these kids this year. 

I’ve still got three in-service days, but for them it’s done.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

My students are really polite. I don’t write enough about that, and I really should. It’s been the trend for the past few years. More and more kids address us teachers as “sir” and “ma’am” (that’s not a thing up here like it is in the South), say “thank you” at the end of class, help us tidy up without being asked, that kind of thing. We all definitely appreciate it. 

There’s also been an increase in the number of students giving thank you gifts, which I don’t think any of us expected, but it’s super sweet! You all saw my Death Star plant. Today I got a gift card to a local restaurant, a bunch of chocolate, and a smiley face rock (which will go next to the Death Star plant, obviously). I was kind of blown away by that.

image

I accepted the gifts and well-wishes happily, and gave the World final to my two Block 4 classes. In both of them, the mood was upbeat; the students knew they totally had this. And, at the end, I wished everyone good luck on their last finals (tomorrow), and said what I refer to as my favorite words of the year: class dismissed.

Day One Hundred Eighty-One

You know, I’ve written a lot about teaching APUSGOV, and I still don’t think I’ve conveyed what an amazing experience it was, so let me review. My students got a sitting congresswoman to come to class and have a chat. Then they got nine (of twelve) candidates vying to replace her to do the same, and not one left without telling me “Those kids are brilliant.” They showed me that brilliance  in class and beyond it. They led a walkout, they met with the governor, they spoke to the press. 

They were a one-in-a-million bunch of students. 

I bring that up again today because The Principal wrote me a really nice note about them and the work I did as their teacher. I say I was mostly just along for the ride, but I appreciated that he took the time to do that.

I gave World finals (reflective essays, just like the midterms) to two of my four sections of the course. I haven’t graded them yet, but I don’t anticipate anyone did really poorly (I can spot that at a glance). The students said they felt confident about it and I got a bunch of sweet thank you messages. I also got an unexpected and awesome gift. Behold the Death Star plant:

Teaching is cool.