Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Catching Up: End of School Stories

Oh jeez, I am sooooo sorry I've gone AWOL for so long! The last time I posted occurred right before the last day of classes (just as hot as last time I posted--so excruciating) and then I had to correct my own exams and then I proctored Regents exams and then the English Department spent three days correcting those Regents exams and my car broke down on the way to work and my horse threw a shoe and the computer exploded and melted right in front of my eyes....OK, those last three things did not happen. I don't even drive to work. But seriously, I didn't feel I could update at work and when I got home, all I wanted to do was...not sit in front of a computer. Forgive me [said with Bambi eyes]?

So...let's see...I think this post will include witticisms about the last two weeks of work, because I don't want to start back with my rant about plastic bags (but it's coming, I warn you now) or Scarlet Lily's beautiful wedding because that deserves a post all its own. Well, work. All right. I will state right away that the old joke of "School would be great if it weren't for the kids" did ring true, honestly. Nobody begging for an extension or complaining about it being too hot...wait, we did do that last bit. Whoops. I did actually miss some of my kids and felt absurdly flattered at the ones who asked me to sign their yearbooks. For next year, I will know to sign next to my picture so I don't again see "Jenn, I luv you cuz you take care of me when I'm [really] drunk...." Sigh. I also have had a few that wanted to be my friend on Facebook, which I of course have to gently click "No" to because that crosses a boundary for me that I find it best to keep well established. Again, though, I found it slightly flattering.

After grading my own exams, which "ranged", as I always tell the students (from 43% to 90% this time), I then had the joy of helping grade the Regents exams. For those who don't know, NY has every single 11th grader in public school take the same exams. The English one takes place over two days and has them write a total of FOUR essays. In an un-air-conditioned gym. This may sound mean, but the fun for us in grading is when we come across an unusual or stand-out exam. I think the best came from their reading about skin cancer and having to write an article about it:

[starting sentence] "THE SUN DOESN'T LIKE YOU!"

"When a person thinks of the sun, one word comes to mind: cancer."

"Parents, why not pay for a spray-on tan so your kids can be safe and ready to look great at prom?"

My other favorites involved a few kids who apparently read the manual How to Kill a Mockingbird. (Step one, get BB gun for Christmas. Step two, do not aim at Miss Maudie while she's tending her flowers.) We did have some great ones, too, as with the student who wrote that Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield both wanted to escape from society in their own way. With the fourth essay, they had to read a quote, interpret it, agree or disagree with it, and then choose two literary works that backed that up (as with the previous sentence). This year's quote came from David Mamet:

"...the human lot in life is to try and fail..."

Not uplifting, but it works with a lot of what they read. What we all found interesting was the number of students who read it as "humans attempt to fail" because in slang, you say or write, "I'm going to try and clean my house today" instead of "I'm going to try to clean my house today." So some kids read the quote as the former, viewing it as "the human lot in life is to try to fail". One student wrote that the human race is trying to kill itself. He did disagree with it, I'm pleased to report.

Now that that's done, I get to wait for my room assignment and schedule. Hopefully I find out about this tomorrow, because I'd like to set up camp soon. Plus I got to do every teacher's dream today: order supplies for next year. All teachers secretly (or openly) would love to go to Office Max with a $1000 gift card and go nuts. Mostly we just go and gaze at all the different kinds of pens, Post-Its, and folders available to us, with a little knot of excitement gurgling in our bellies. Truly, I'm going there tomorrow to get accordion folders to organize my literature units and I could not be more excited. I also get to see if my office still has a wall tomorrow-- truly. The maintenance staff had to move my desk four feet away from the wall due to some fire code and they have to put up a new wall, so I may very well come in tomorrow with a desk that faces a set of lockers in the chemistry hallway. I'll let you know.

Whew! Enough of a catch-up for now? Have a good Tuesday, folks.

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