The end of Spring Semester is always hard, but this year it seems particularly challenging for me (after all I do teach in Kentucky). As I noted in Wrapping Up the Semester Write, it is hard to say good-bye to students I have worked with since August in three different classes. There is a chance I’ll see my favorite again (as he changed his major to English Education, may God have mercy on his soul), but at best the others will be fleeting glimpses in the hallway or at Kroger from now on. But our final class was a perfect ending in so many ways that I just needed to share it.
We began with a writing prompt as always. Our final writing prompt was simple: I asked them to brainstorm a list of reasons to celebrate their classmates. After giving them some time to work on their lists I refreshed their memories by sharing the most recent round of badge votes (including evidence) that they had awarded to their classmates over the past four weeks. We shared laughter and tears during this walk down memory lane — looking at both our work as a class and individual contributions.
We then took a break from that activity to focus on our final collaboration on a scoring guide (sob) and to plan the work necessary to finalize their class project. It was a bittersweet moment for me to watch them work with very little prompting from me.
Then we wrapped up by collaborating on praise poems where we celebrated the wonderful things we have noticed about each other over the course of the year. This celebration of ourselves is a wonderful way to wrap up the year and I hope my students find as much solace in the words written to them about their peers as I continue to find in the words that my students wrote to me. As much as the trials of teaching sometimes wears me down, it is always the students who refresh my spirit.
In Wrapping Up the Semester Write, I wrote that I was seeking a way to wrap up our year together “with reflection, celebration, and intention” and we did all those things and more. This has been a hard year, a long semester, and an emotional roller coaster professionally and personally, so maybe it is just the exhaustion, but I still cry when I read my poem:
Won’t you celebrate with me that I have inspired my students to write more
that I make learning fun
that I have educated my students about different ways to look at things
that I am easy to talk to
that I am an excellent educator who treats my students with intellectual respect
Won’t you celebrate with me that I make my classes enjoyable
that I have inspired my students to be more creative writers
that I am a very inspirational person
that I connect with my students
that I have helped my students understand that English is more than books
My first-year students have proven (to me and to each other) that they have exceeded all the student learner outcomes for Writing I and Writing II as well as First Year Seminar, but more than that they have become the writers and thinkers I hoped they could be when I first met them in August. And the icing on the cake is that they can also write some awesome poetry as well as rocking arguments.