Thursday, June 30, 2005

Graduation Love-Fest, Part 1

So, I left you with an account of my second rollercoaster ride ever.

The rest of the week leading up to graduation was intense. Ever planned a graduation before? Ever planned one when there are no traditions yet, no boilerplate to use, when you're making it all up as you go along? Yeah. I spent all my free periods and hours after school designing the program using PrintShop. Actually, most of the hours were spent copy-editing the program. We listed all the high schools the kids will be attending on the back of the program; that list had to be checked and re-checked (can you imagine if we left out someone's school?!). Fonts and styles had to be played with and adjusted. We dedicated it to a couple of parents who passed away while their children were in our school, and to our injured colleague, and to another sick parent. All of that had to be checked and re-checked.

Meanwhile, my colleagues were printing names onto diplomas, slicing the diplomas a bit so they would fit in their cases, and checking and re-checking that each one was spelled right and no one was missing. And then they needed to be put in the correct order to be handed out at graduation.

Meanwhile, we had to get awards printed and ready for the 6th and 7th grade awards night. While we only had to do about 60 diplomas, we had hundreds of awards - for achievement in each subject area, for improvement in each subject area, perfect attendence, citizenship, and "scholars" awards to the kids who made honor roll every marking period in all four major subjects. Whew.

Meanwhile, we were teaching classes. I pretty much just played games with the kids for the last week, but I tried to keep it structured and at least a little educational. I taught the 8th graders the rules to Go, as an alternative to chess. A few of them really took to that. We also played a game of mixed pictionary/charades using science and school-related words. And I let them sign yearbooks or help me clean up the classroom, as long as everyone was occupied and speaking at low volume. When I say love-fest, it really was. Despite the long days and hot weather, when I sat with the kids, I felt incredibly proud of the adults they are gradually becoming. And they wrote nice things in my yearbook. One boy, who was always very quiet in class, not a problem but not a great student, either, wrote "This is the only time I've liked Science!" I think I value that comment above all the others, because I never would have guessed that he liked my class. I didn't think he disliked it, but I thought it was something he endured, as so many children endure so much of school. I can only hope that his high school teachers keep him interested.

I also handed out "Ms. Frizzle's Report Card" and had the students evaluate me. I'll share the questions I asked and a few of the results in another post (my eyes are starting to glaze over).

Oh, we were also running graduation rehearsals. Now, I doubt you've ever experienced anything quite so much fun as trying to get a bunch of hot, cranky 8th graders, just a few days from graduation, to practice singing and doing hand motions and swaying to a handful of songs. Especially kids with no experience singing with their classmates, as we have no chorus or anything like that in our school. We hired a "graduation planner" to help with this. In the end, as you'll see, they pulled it together for graduation. I don't care to relive those rehearsals in any greater detail, and I was only at two (out of about 8!).

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