Saturday, June 22, 2013

the last week of heavy duty teaching

I made it through the week!  My last real teaching week although I am not sure how much teaching there was but there was lots of learning I hope!  I know school isn't over but what with presentations for other classes in the library, our graduation assembly, two field trips, another school assembly, and a picnic with our buddies in grade one next week I knew this was my last real week of at least attempting to teach.

We started the week on the roof.  When my class
realized the teachers were having a barbecue on the roof the night of the intermediate musical, they wanted to go on the roof so that I promised them that one day we would read on the roof.  With reports of rain for most of the week, I decided if it was happening it had to happen Monday.  It was rather fun.  And they actually did read.  At the end of our 25 minutes, I did let them explore a bit and they couldn't resist kicking a ball found up there a bit, until our Special Ed Assistant and I pointed out that they were doing this above Ms. Pavao's room.  Then she ran up to tell us her room was shaking as if there was an earthquake.  Of course they had stopped by then!

We had our last session in the series, Coping with Life's Ups and Downs, put on by Lu and Tiffany from the B.C. Crisis Centre.  This has been such a good experience teaching the class and me how to be more mindful and giving strategies for dealing with stress.  This week took some deep breathing and using STOP (stop, take a breath, observe, and proceed).  In this session we learned not to jump back and forth between what we think is bad and good but try to notice what is happening and realizing what we might think is bad could actually be good etc.  Just observe...

That afternoon was really special as well.  We had Luella from Compassionate Eye came and brought her brother, Robert, the founder.  That was so exciting and I know the kids treasured their kind words.  Here is a little bit of the video clip.  And Sharon from Room to Read was there as well and gave us a copy of Room to Read founder's children's  book, Zak the Yak, the that we have now placed in our school library.  Here is a bit of the clip of Sharon's speech to the class.  The kids had a lot of fun planning and executing lemonade and freezie and bake sales.  Both these ladies had earlier given  presentations about their organizations and taught the kids some great strategies for fundraising that I know they will continue to use in the future.  I am also going to put a copy of Julia's review on the pages section of this blog...  So in addition to fundraising of our Me to We Club for Free the Children, this class raised just over 1800 dollars for the Vancouver Food Bank, the Downtown East Neighbourhood House, the Union Gospel Mission, the Nepal Library Foundation, Compassionate Eye, and Room to Read.  The lesson I learned from this was to try to put as much responsibility in the hands of the children as possible.  Then the ownership is theirs not mine.
visitors.  We had cheques to present to two of our favourite charities.

Letting go isn't easy for any of us, most of us.  And in our final projects I really did let go.  Each student was able to pick their final project.  I did ask them to try to show the habitudes we have been working on-self-awareness, imagination, creativity, perseverance, passion, and courage.  When I initially saw some of the titles, I almost backed up into making them do projects on Ancient Rome, but I thought-let's just go for it.  They were told to have them ready for Wednesday (my advice to them learned at the school board, is always have everything ready a day early in case of emergencies) but the presentations were Thursday.  Of course we ran out of time Thursday afternoon and had to finish them off Friday morning.

I have to say they were kind of wonderful.  We went from wolves to rap musicians to the Philippines 
natural wonder- an underground river, to Golden Retrievers, to How to Play the Guitar, to Dance, to Lemony Snickett to Finding Nemo to Vancouver's riots and the Olympics.  Needless to say the kids were totally engaged in the subjects they had chosen.  Each one got up to the front of the class and presented loudly and clearly about something deeply personal to them.  There were posters, models, dioramas, prezis and power points.  Students were given quizes and music and dance lessons.  We all felt as if we were being eaten by a grizzly bear.  We got to touch a real bow and arrows one student had made.  Students did research and then made the material their own.  I found out things I never knew-I mean did I know that the famous American architect and urban planner, David Hudson Burnham, has a park named after him in Baguia, a city he planned in the Philippines?  On Monday we will share them with other classes in the school.

Friday was a very special day.  Our staff and students had planned a beautiful assembly for our principal and myself as we are both retiring.  It was kind of a weird experience sitting in my empty classroom Friday morning for a bit, knowing they were practicing, and there was much going back and forth as my students put final touches on various projects with our teacher-librarian (not all I have yet seen). And I have to say it was magic, the perfect summation of my wonderful four years at this wonderful school.  There was the slide show I had put together for my retirement celebration and then the whole school sang a revised version of Cindi Lauper's True Colours for me, accompanied by several of my students on guitar and piano.  There was a prezi put together by some of my boys complete with a video illustrating that homework comes before basketball playing (as if?!).  There was a lovely speech and a presentation of a plant by two of the girls (the speech was also written by one who got shy about presenting) and I have many cards and posters from my class and different classes in the school.  This was followed by a different but similar presentation for Jim, who has been the school's beloved principal for seven years.  The second graders even took him on a trip to New York to see his favorite musical, Chorus Line.  Of course none of this could have happened without the work of our totally amazing staff.  One more thing to do in the midst of report card writing and end of the year finishing.

But the day wasn't over.  I had 28 valedictorian speeches to hear and two to be picked by the class to be read at our ceremony Monday (in the end there will be four).  In fact we had to stay until 3:15 to finish them and they weren't quite as entertaining as the presentations but they were wonderful.  Again it isn't easy to get up in front of your peers and say deeply personal things.  I had thought I might not have time to hear them all and thought of short listing but it's hard to evaluate a speech until you have heard it ,and I think it's important that the kids pick who they want to represent their class and everyone has an opportunity to speak.  I will post them all and make a book of them.

So it's a weekend that will include writing certificates and making up humorous awards for each person in the class and making final decisions on more serious awards.  I also will work on a final slideshow for the school's final assembly Thursday.  But it was a great week even if I didn't get the final science and French lessons in... Next week is really about cementing in those final memories for the kids and for me!

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