Exhibition Night & the end of school

Wednesday night, as I mentioned in my previous post, was Exhibition Night, an evening to celebrate students’ work over the course of the trimester. I don’t have too many photos because I recorded two videos–one of a Midsummer Night’s Dream performance and one of a spoken word piece that was performed at Camp Darfur (totaling 21 minutes)–so I ran out of space on my memory card.

Peace cranes made by students after school during a unit in history on peace. Next year they will be sent to Japan.

They are hanging in the main entryway to the high school side of the building. Spectacular!

These are from the choice block "Stupid Sock Creatures." Students designed and sewed them, and wrote their life stories, which are imaginative & hysterical. (Choice block classes are electives that meet once a week on Fridays. Other choice blocks include: knitting, softball, tech squad (they fix the school's computers), and Green Team. I teach Newspaper.)

Aside from the many performances, including the performances by an experimental theater group that meets after school and a student band, my favorite part of this Exhibition Night was the tours given by students. I received a tour of the school’s organic garden (below). I also went on a tour of an art project that involved extensive research into the history of our school’s land. It culminated in the creation of large wooden silhouettes of each of the people who have lived on our land, which are displayed along the roadside.

The school's organic garden, created by honors biology students and anyone else who wanted to help, under the guidance of our fabulous biology teacher.

Friday was the last day of school. It ended at 1pm and the last two hours of the day were a schoolwide barbeque, organized and run by parents. After getting my food, I sat down in the grass with two other teachers. Soon there was a group of 20 or so students sitting around us. This is so ordinary, but it really struck me when I was telling David about it because I think it really sets us apart. There were lots of places to sit, but the students were drawn towards their teachers.

Earlier in the week, one of my colleagues ran a reflection activity for 10th graders. We’ve come a long way since our days in the town hall last year, with only the 9th grade. When I walked into a classroom later in the day, a chalk talk was still on the board. Students were asked something along the lines of, “What do you most like about our school? What don’t you want to lose as we continue to grow?” Four or five times, the same thing: “Our relationships with our teachers.”

I’ve been reflecting a bit on the growth I’ve experienced this year with classroom management, something that I still need to work on. I think, though, that the improvements I’ve made this year have little to do with developing new strategies and are mostly the result of getting to know my students. As I developed relationships with some of my students with less than perfect behavior, they listened to me more. Slowly, and not entirely reliably, two students who once fought me began to respond with a knowing smile and mumbled apology when they were misbehaving. As I got to know students, I also learned how different students would respond to different methods of redirection. I think that getting to know my students, both as English students and as people outside my classroom, is one of my greatest areas of success this year.

Near the end of school, a student who spent much of the year disliking me and my class, but has slowly come around, said to me with honesty and kindness, “You have a really great sense of humor.”

Last night, around 10pm, I finished writing my 15 pages of narratives for report cards. It is officially summer vacation!!

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