Today was the next-to-last day of school.
I used to be that teacher who assigns work until the last day. The one who waits until the very last day to collect the textbooks. It made for a very orderly end-of-school period. The students did not like it, but who cares about that? Not me, certainly. It's not my job to please them. It's my job to educate them, keep order, and maintain a civil, safe environment.
A few years ago, I changed my tune. Other teachers would breeze through check-out and exit the building before the last whiff of the last student fart had evaporated. While I was calculating grades, storing texts, compiling inventory, and readying my classroom for the summer scrub-and-polish. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me thirteen times, shame on me.
So I joined the majority. And I don't feel the least bit guilty. All year long, I give a written assignment at least four days a week. Often five. I have a vast point compilation on which to base my grades. Those 12 or 15 points during the last couple days mean little in the 750 to 1000 points parceled out over the quarter. I have no classroom control issues. The biggest offenders this week were an eye-roller and a butt-writer. With grades in the can, awards duly awarded, and textbooks stacked in number order, my check-out list is complete.
To maintain order and foster good will for the final days, I opened Cinema Hillbilly Mom. No refreshments, though. There are limits to my good will. The younger charges re-discovered Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gory and violent, perhaps. But without sex and nudity. And rated PG-13. The older students were forced to watch The Bad Seed, a study in the nature vs. nurture argument. I say forced, but a majority voted for it over Apollo 13.
In case you haven't caught The Bad Seed on TMC, here's the premise. An 8-year-old girl who is descended from a murderess is the last person to be seen with a young classmate just before his death at the school picnic. His battered body is found floating by a pier, missing the penmanship medal that the young girl coveted. Scuttlebutt is that Rhoda tormented Claude Daigle all morning, chasing him, trying to snatch the penmanship medal off his chest.
Today, after the stunning end of the movie, one girl had turned sideways in her seat to talk to another. I was shutting down my control panel and removing the disk when I heard the following exchange:
Girl 1-What are you doing? Are you trying to grab my boob!?!?
Girl 2-No! You have a hair on your shirt. I'm just getting it off.
Mrs. Hillbilly Mom-She's trying to grab the penmanship medal.
The kid behind the boob-hair girl started hee-hawing. That's the first time I've seen him show any emotion since he moved to Newmentia about six weeks ago.
Thank you. I'll be here another half-day.