A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 27 2011

What the End of the School Year is Really Like

This time last year, I entertained this fantasy that, on the final day of school, I’d give an inspiring speech to my students about everything that they’d learned and how I wished them all the best in the future. That never happened; it won’t happen this year either.

The school year, contrary to popular belief, does not end with a bang. Rather, it ends in a drawn-out languorous way, like an opened bottle of Coke that goes flat over time. (Disclaimer: my statement is limited to what I’ve experienced at my school, but I’m sure it is generalizable to many other schools, whether in DC or elsewhere. The interesting question is whether this is characteristic of an underperforming school, a DC school, a public school or something else.)

Just to be clear: I’d prepared “closing remarks,” as it were, to give to my students as a way to solidify the knowledge, skills and mindsets that I’d hoped I’d imparted throughout the year. So it’s not as if I was too lazy to come up with things to say, either this year or last.

Instead, the slew of year-end goings on occurred. Final exams. Final persuasive essay. Long-overdue essays. Work packets. Field trips. Prom. Senioritis. Summer.

And then today happens. Today, Friday, May 27th, 2011. Today, the day when I have 3 students during 1st period and zero students in 2nd or 3rd period. Today, a day that is still, technically, a regular school day. Today, more than 3 full weeks before the official last day of school. Today, when I sit in, and stare at, an empty classroom and wonder what to do with myself and what to do with these “closing remarks” that I wanted to somehow give but never got the chance to.

To be fair, my 1st and 2nd period students are seniors who have just finished taking their finals (they graduate before the semester ends). So they deserve some slack. Also, today is prom; prepping for such a pivotal moment in one’s K-12 life is warranted.

But are those fair excuses? Seniors’ last official day of school is June 3. My 3rd period class has no seniors. And since when did prom necessitate skipping school? (Then again, as someone whose high school did not have prom and who has never been to any prom, I have no basis for saying something like this. I will be attending my first prom ever tonight.)

So, at least for me, the idealized notion of “the last days of school” has been replaced by the truth: it’s not as exciting or memorable as one might think.

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2 Responses

  1. Ms. AK

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’m going to be finishing my first year in a little less than a month…But I already know attendance, structure, and engagement will be severely lacking after our final in 2 weeks. And it’s weird because, I too pictured one big, dramatic farewell to my kids…But it looks like I’ll have to be doing that inconsistently as they come and go. *Sigh*

  2. Wyrm1

    It is pretty painful to see the school empty out like this. The problem at my school is that many of my seniors have not taken their senior finals (and won’t bother).

    Underclassmen are worse, and by the end of next week I’m guessing that half of them will not be showing up either (and won’t show up for the final)

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Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

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