What I’ve learned…

For the next week I’m in the middle of finals frenzy. My two English 9CP classes have been having (I hope) fun with what academia calls “Functional Workplace Documents.” Only educators could come up with a name like that for practical everyday paperwork like resumes, job applications, how to analyze newspaper ads, etc. Since this is the last chapter in class each term, I try to make it fun. The class is split into companies. Each company has to come up with a product they produce, a name, a logo, and a slogan. They choose a CEO and secretary and in their company learn how to write memos, block business letters, resumes, process descriptions, and a commercial. If there is time (and there is this year) we tape the commercials (and yeah, I had to sneak video in there somehow). We even have one class where the CEOs get to terminate someone (all in good fun). My broadcasting class is winding down too…beginning Monday students start their finals…create a DVD menu using iDVD, shoot and create a label to print on the DVD, burn and print. It’s an A or F effort – and I won’t let them burn or print until the DVD works (not that hard with iDVD, but I have had kids just add buttons to the templates that don’t link).

So here I’ve been teaching them…and they’ve passed some lessons back to me. These past few weeks have been very difficult for me…someone has been getting into my office stealing gear. And no, the lesson is NOT do not trust my kids. With the exception of the poor lost soul who’s made off with cameras, they’re a wonderful bunch. They are coming together and forming a family in each period. Students who I thought didn’t care, do. My broadcast kids consider the room theirs and anyone who messes with the gear (or me apparently) had better look out. Two guys saw one of the stolen cameras and went to the administration to report it and who had it. One of them during our study of ethics said he would never “rat” on another student…but this was different. I have a lead on who took some of the other gear too. In the poetry unit we completed two weeks ago I kept egging the kids to use “their own voices” in writing and one of my thugs wrote some extremely powerful love poems in street talk. He’s found his “voice” and English is his favorite class. My freshmen girls in broadcasting have realized the upperclassmen aren’t there for them to flirt with and they’re now serious about raising their grades…and they know to choose partners based on ability and not other factors (go Girlz!). My quiet, noisy, aggressive, shy, hyperactive, slow students are each unique and want to be seen as individuals, not part of some class. They share their stories and want to be recognized for each victory and each fall and every effort made…and I’m thinking of flunking every single one of them so I can keep them (but that would be SO wrong). The families we formed over the past four and a half months will dissolve at the end of this coming week. There will be tears and hugs…but they’re leaving me with hope for the future because they care.

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