- There are Kinder Ways: Engaging Hesitant Students Pt. 2 - April 1, 2016
- There Are Kinder Ways: Engaging Hesitant Students - March 21, 2016
- Teacher Burnout: A Series of Fresh Starts - February 10, 2016
- Adventures in Going Paperless: Making Assumptions about Digital Literacy - December 16, 2015
- Adventures in Going Paperless: Step Two, Navigating Digital Feedback - November 12, 2015
- Adventures in Going Paperless: Step One, Taking the Leap - November 3, 2015
- The Problem of the Chronically Absent Student - October 5, 2015
- Why We Write from Day 1 - September 17, 2015
- Trusting Teachers Creates Truly Successful Schools - September 1, 2015
- The Challenge of Getting to that Messy First Draft - August 7, 2015
I hate finals.
There. I said it. I really and truly hate finals. I’m pretty sure it’s my least favorite time as a teacher. Two weeks before the end of each semester, all real teaching stops, and students move into review, prep and panic mode. They stress over facts not mentioned since September and scramble to put finishing touches on long procrastinated projects, all leading up to that final day where up to 20% of their final grade is on the line.
And let’s not forget the uncomfortable conversations every teacher recognizes that finish with some form of, “No, I will not offer you enough extra credit for make up for the fact that you refused to do any work this semester.”
It’s an interesting kind of hate though. It’s not one that seethes and festers. It actually dissipates fairly quickly, forgotten until the end of the next semester when I find myself wondering why I was so snippy with first period and nodding as I realize, “Oh, yeah. It’s finals time again.”
As this week was the first of my school’s second semester, I found myself pondering this amnesia. I walked in Monday morning fresh, happy and ready to go when just four days prior, I commiserated with colleagues, describing the “nail in my coffin,” Corey from 7th period, who when asked why after weeks of work, he hadn’t submitted his final character analysis for The Catcher in the Rye said, “Ummmm….so…I’m supposed to write about Holden?”
Sorry. I had to pause a second while I shook my head again.
So, why did it only take a weekend to change my perspective? Well, the best I can figure is that, quite simply, we were starting with a relatively clean slate. While the majority of my students were the same from first semester, some had moved periods, and, as teachers know, even one new student can change the entire dynamic of a class. These same students, now that grades were submitted, had fresh opportunity. Someone who had fumbled first semester could give it another try. We were all, on some level, starting again.
This is one of the beautiful things about teaching.