Friday, May 27, 2011
Such a final sounding word. The chorus swells, the orchestra crescendoes, the curtain falls, and the applause begins. If you're lucky you get an encore, but even as that plays you know the end has come Again. Today was the last day of school--better than Christmas, you say? Well, I'd say! This spring has been so very bitterly cold; today was no exception. Spoils some of the fun. Water balloons and shaving cream were noticably absent. Not that many kids rode their bikes to school--a long-standing last day tradition. I have a couple of beefs (beeves?) with the last days of school. The most obvious is that once the academic routine is broken, adolescent kids become nonrecognizable. In short, non likeable. Due to their developmental immaturity, they don't have the skills to navigate the delirium of the festivities. I just figured this out a couple of years ago. I couldn't understand why the aura I had worked so hard to achieve in my classroom (the comraderie, the intimacy etc.) didn't extend to the class fieldtrip to Lava Hot Springs, or why the good behavior we had worked on all year erupted into jungle fever during the less-structured last days! But now I get it. And I came up with an antidote. Three days before the end I seat my classes in desks in a large circle. We pass a paper with our name on it around the circle. Each student writes something positive and personal about that person, signs his name, and then passes it to the next person. At the end of the activity ALL have a personal affirmation of their worth and merit in the eyes of their teacher and classmates. They grab on to these papers like rare war bonds; their intensity is palpable. "I'm going to keep mine forever." "You thought THAT about me?" I keep mine to read long after the last bus pulls away. It seems trivial. It isn't a bonus check. It doesn't shine well in a trophy case. But it's very very personal to me and eases some of the pain of each year's ending.