Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Last Week

There's something tough about the last week of classes. I don't know about you, but I gave my final exams already. My students have 200 other tests to take and I don't want to burden them with homework that takes more than a few minutes. I'm doing mostly reading and discussion, but I know that we're pretty much finished. So how do I keep my students from figuring that out?

I'm not sure I can, actually. They kind of get the vibe. One kid asked me why we were doing an activity the other day, and I said, "Because it's a CLASS. You have to DO something." I heard that in a college class I was teaching. One student said it to another. He was a little older and the student asking the question was very young. He was a doctor and could be very sarcastic at times. I liked that particular response though, and I've stolen it more than once.

I'm worried my students are reading my mind. Once that happens I'm not sure how effective I'm gonna be. The kids seem to get smarter every year, though, and once they become clairvoyant I'm afraid I'm gonna be finished. What if I make a threat hoping no one will take me up on it? I'll have to follow up with whatever promised consequence there was, even if the student read my mind and understood I didn't want to.

Last Friday was the day after the prom, unofficially designated senior cut day, My seniors didn't disappoint period one. Not a single one of them showed and my class was down by half. I decided to give a quiz. The students were shocked. But the questions were not too bad.

When was the War of 1812?
Where does Chinese food come from?
What color is the white board?

I went on like that for ten questions. The last question was, "What's your favorite subject?" and I gave extra credit to people who wrote English. Despite that, some people got grades as low as 90. I can't remember which question they got wrong, but I was surprised. On the brighter side, they aren't yet reading my mind.

There are some good aspects to this week. One is that an enormous pressure will be lifted from my shoulders. Despite all the years I've been doing this, the most pressure I feel is in creating classes. I felt this before Cuomo's awful evaluation law. One of the things Cuomo didn't consider when pushing the miserable evaluation law is what it's like to bomb in front of 34 teenagers. This, of course, is because he's never taught, and he's never been through what we go through each and every day.

I don't know about you, but I fear that more than I fear some supervisor with an iPad. I remember it happening to me in my first few years. I remember watching other teachers and wondering exactly what they were doing that I was not. Why are their classes calm while mine is off the wall?

I'm not sure there's an easy response to that. I'd say things got just a little better when I started calling houses. And maybe I've grown more confident or authoritative over the years. Mostly, I have more experience and more go-to lesson plans. If I see something not working I can usually push it in another direction and try something at least different, if not always better.

But although all my observations are done, I feel more pressure this week than any other. I don't recall feeling this way at the end of the year last year, but I also don't recall having to give finals over a week before classes ended. Of course there are many things I don't recall, and this may be only the most recent one.

And when summer's around the corner, it's hard to feel the pressure quite as intensely as much as you would some other time.
blog comments powered by Disqus