The school year will officially be over at noon tomorrow, at least for students. Staff have to be here, technically, until 3:08, and then again next Monday, for our last day of professional development. But for all intents and purposes, the school year is OVER.
Like all years, it has had its highs and lows.
I've seen students grow up; I've seen them soar; I've seen others regress; I've been impressed with some; I've been disappointed by some. I've loved them all, through thick and thin, and I will be sad to see them go on to high school.
While I still love my job, I find myself, with every passing year, losing more and more of the feeling that my job defines me. Part of that may be personal, with grandchildren who know take much of my free time. But the bulk of that loss comes from the changes in education.. locally and nationally.
A good friend, a former middle school teaching colleague, is considering retirement. Another former colleague, who taught in the middle school with us, came to talk to me, asking about pranking the potential retiree. Back in the good ole days, the middle school staff was a bonded unit. We laughed, we pranked, we taught, we planned fun activities to challenge students, we had competitions between classes for fun, for academics, for just because it was Friday...
We took academics seriously. We pushed kids to their outer limits. We expected them to meet our expectations, behaviorally, academically, and socially.
But we were a family. A large rumbly family, rough around the edges, but fiercely protective of each other, and most of all, of our 'offspring'.
The middle school was THE place to be, the place to teach, the place to learn... WE were the COOL KIDS.
Now.. we are sucked into the high school... the 6th grade hovers on the edge of elementary. None of us really belong anywhere. We just exist.
And I wonder.. how much of THAT causes the apathy among our students... our staff... the lack of respect.. the lack of motivation..
So much of what we do now revolves around testing and test scores.. pre-tests and post-tests... And push 'em harder, and learn 'em faster, and get 'em ready for that next leap.. that we've forgotten they are just kids. We've forgotten that school ought to be about more than scores and learning. It is about being part of something bigger and better, where together we ALL are better.
If we could go back, be a middle school again, be US again.. would that change anything??