My 8th period girls left in a flurry of papers and books today. We spent the last hour of class making posters for next year and cleaning up the classroom. All the bad feelings of two weeks ago seem to have been forgotten and they wished me well and told me they would visit next year. As they left, I hopped up into the air with a big smile. I finished my first year! My grades are practically done, my room decently organized, my check-out sheet almost completed, and ideas for next year in progress. Another teacher said “Wow, Ms. Math, that’s the first time I’ve seen you smile this year.” I was surprised to hear that because I thought that second semester I’d smiled a bit. Life was certainly better.
My seniors from Pre-Calculus are coming in and out of the room now, having me sign their check-out cards. It’s nice to have a moment with each of them, to ask what they are doing, to encourage them to live up to their potential, or to congratulate them on doing good work. Even the ones I failed didn’t seem upset with me. One gave me a hug and apologized for failing my class. “It’s not you miss. I didn’t fail your class because I didn’t like you.”
One said, “When I’m in college taking math I’m going to think, I learned that in Ms. Math’s class.” This student had improved so much this year. We’d had some attitude problems at the beginning of the year, when I told him to put away his gameboy and get to work but, by the end, we were friends and he was doing great.
I talked to another girl who ended up failing Pre-Calc despite valiant efforts to make up her grade the Saturday after grades were due. I encouraged her to register for Pre-Calc at UNLV and save the expense of College Algebra. Hopefully she’ll procrastinate less and learn more next year.
Other students who had done well on the final left happy with their grades, excited to have received an A. A few asked if we made our 80-percent goal. Second period’s average was a respectable 77 percent. Perhaps it’s not significant gain but I felt pretty good about it. I needed something to cheer me up after the 40 and 45 percent averages in my boys classes.
Time is strange in life. There were many times this year when the minutes dragged on. I have 37 more minutes to keep these boys under control. I have 4 more days until Friday. I have to see these children 67 more times. I have 590 papers to grade. At one point I didn’t know if I would make it, and didn’t know if it was worth it. Even on Tuesday with 4th period, the last three minutes of class took forever as I saw the boys on the verge of self-destruction. If they had been there just a few more minutes it could have meant disaster. In just the time they had, they managed to put gum in an electrical outlet. I should ask a science teacher if it conducts electricity. I would have almost laughed if they’d hurt themselves while trying to mess up my classroom.
Despite all these challenges dragging on I’m done with the year. My parents always said that time passes faster the older you get and maybe it’s true because I’m actually done with something that I thought would be an unbearable burden. It’s almost like a long bike ride where at the end of the first three miles you wonder why you are planning on riding 97 more.
Today was all about getting along with the students. I didn’t have to act like an authority figure, I could just be friendly and maybe even their friend. After all the seniors leaving me are practically the same age as me. Of course I’ve grown up so much in the last year that I would hardly imagine that any of them are anywhere as mature.
It’s funny to even think of myself as mature because I dance around the class and still act like a goof ball all the time, but I suppose I am. Finishing this year might prove to me, and certainly to everyone else, that I am finally grown up. An adult. Scary. Of course I’m not going to be working this summer and just bumming around on my bike so maybe I’ll return to adolesence for a while longer. I sure hope so!