Well, we’ve finally come to the end of another year. It’s been a good year. After doing this for over 20 years, I would think that I had it all figured out, but every year I learn something new. Maybe when it’s time to retire I’ll get it down. : )
Spending a year with these students, you really get to know them and when it’s time to say good-bye, it’s not that easy. There are those students who you are happy to see leave, but I didn’t have that many this year. This year has been tough for a lot of my students, and I worry about them as they enter the busy drama-filled life of high school. I had students who have lost a parent due to illness. Other students had to deal with parents going through divorce. Just recently, one of my students received the news that cancer will be taking his brother within the month. This was especially tough, since I know the family. When we hear news like this, I find the stress that I feel when my students don’t turn in their work or when parents blame you for their student’s lack of progress so insignificant. I have no problems when compared to some of what my students are dealing with. It’s in these times when I have to rededicate myself to my primary job as care-giver to these students. Whether they understand the concept of Manifest Destiny or remember the names of the generals at the Battle of Gettysburg is secondary to the lesson that I must teach them that there is a future for them that is better than the negative present that they are experiencing, and if they can’t find someone in their immediate circle who will show them compassion or sincere concern for their well being, I must. I will – especially to those students who I previously stated was happy to see leave.
Today’s Tip for New Teachers: Make sure you have something busy for the students to do during the last week. Kids normally check out a week before school ends. If you’re trying to give a last test or a major project, you may find students who are absent or not really into school anymore. I know you are taught to teach to the very end, but you can’t get too much across to kids on the last day of school. I use that day for my End-Of-The-Year speech, where I encourage them to do their best and to ignore the negative influences in their life. I also like showing an End-Of-The-Year slide show of the students. That’s always fun.
See you next year.