The end of the school year is upon me. I always look forward to this time of year because I get to spend two months with my own children. I’m also ready because it has been a difficult school year.
Our principal (it was her first year) does not seem to be a good fit for our building. She seems to think that a gentle word and a hug is discipline enough for fifth through eighth graders. I do think this is the case in some instances, but junior high students are generally intelligent and understand their actions. Her inability to be consistent with discipline (a fight one day and the participants get three days of out of school suspension, but another day and the participants lose lunch recess) has undermined not only her authority, but ours as well. Students talk to us with complete disrespect and sometimes even taunt us with “Whatcha goin do about it, huh?” The teachers can give detentions and call parents. In some cases, the phone call home works, but in the community I teach in, most parents are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. They have little, if any, time to worry about what their kids are doing at school (as is evident from the enormous retention list). I have spent much of this school year sad.
At the same time, though, I am looking forward to next year, a feeling I haven’t had in awhile. I have some ideas I want to implement next year and I have found some new materials to use. I also will be tutoring this summer – two girls who are going into sixth grade. They are very intelligent girls and their parents want tutoring for the summer in areas that schools lack (note-taking, answering essay questions, different forms of writing) and to finish the math book that the teacher didn’t get to finish. I am excited to work with kids that aren’t behind.
My classroom is bare and most things are boxed up. We’re playing educational games (Scrabble, Fluxx, Trivial Pursuit). I am going to miss my eighth graders who are moving on to the high school and I am going to miss the students who will be moving over the summer. I complain regularly about my students, but they are still mine and I am very attached to them.
I can feel the shadows circling, fueled by my sadness, but the summer sun and thoughts of my two little ones at home keep them at bay. It’s becoming harder to stop the darkness, but I’ll do my best.