Sunday, March 2, 2008

late leaping wishes

happy leap day!

i feel compelled to write something today, as this day only happens once every four years and it has been a memorable one. my life force was rejuvenated and full-impact today -- we played terra nova jeopardy for the last time (i fashioned the game to be based on test-taking skills, and skills that they're still struggling with - like subject/predicate identification and sentence combining) and the testing begins on monday -- all we can do now is wish them luck and hope that the preparation we've done will be helpful to them. i'm beginning to understand the "teach to the test" mentality, because ultimately, i feel responsible if my students do not pass, and their future next year (and possibly whether they continue in school or drop out) depends on their performance next week. talk about high-stakes. stakes has never been so high (shout out to de la). as a teacher and an advocate for my students, how can i not take it both seriously and personally? and really, what i've learned is that test prep SUCKS, but if you put effort into being creative with it and making it fun, cooperative and competitive, it's much more bearable.

j. angel, one of my students who was expelled a few weeks ago, was allowed to return this week, after negotiating with the school and seeking treatment in a mental health facility. he wrote me a letter about his experience and i nearly busted out crying in our 6th hour assembly while reading it. i can't think of anything more inspiring that when a student, through many struggles, begins to realize how beautiful and precious his own life is, how much he is worth, and how much he deserves to be happy. most of my students have seen more at 14 than i probably ever will, and i've seen a lot. i'm not trying to build this up to be dangerous minds, or to get you to pity them, because really, they don't need your pity. they are stronger than they even know. but their courage astounds me and i feel endlessly humbled by how much they've taught me this year.

perhaps i'm talking in past-tense because we began to talk about graduation today. i don't even know what i'm going to do without these kids, aside from worry about them and attempt to stay in contact to harass them during high school, but i can assure you that i'll be a sobbing mess as they cross the stage on june 6. what's interesting is that the school doesn't want them going crazy about their 8th grade graduation; even though it's a momentus occasion for many of them, they want to encourage them to celebrate in style ("in a pimpin' HUM-V limo, do it up!!," said the principal) when they graduate high school, but want to encourage them to make plans to continue after 8th grade. doin' it up for this promotion would equal justification for dropping out, said the administration.

really, i'm fluctuating on whether or not i'll ever need to have kids - because right now i have 90 and i'm going to sit down with the modern myths they wrote me and spend my weekend figuring out how to really get going on literature -- now that test prep is done.

hope you're moving forward and feeling blessed. i certainly am.


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