1. I went for my normal Starbucks run this morning, but a little later than usual (I like how my arrival at school creeps later and later in the last weeks of school.) As I waited for my skinny vanilla latte, I spotted two cute girls looking especially happy. Apparently I look like a teacher these days and I can also tell when other people are teachers. These girls looked like teachers. On the last day of school. My suspicion was confirmed when I saw the tell-tale "Field Day 2009" t-shirt on one and the apple key chain on the other. I feel like when you're a teacher you're in some sort of club where everyone knows everyone else. I had a compulsion to go up to them and say "I'm a teacher, too! Happy last day of school!" But thankfully, I didn't.
2. When I arrived at school, I didn't get any gifts, but I did get two really sweet notes. One note was from a girl who had taken it upon herself to write me a small book stapled together. When she handed it to me, she said, "There are probably LOTS of misspelled words. I wrote it at 11:00 last night." haha. Well, she was right about the misspelled words, but the story was so cute! She wrote "The Night Before the Last Day of School" and modeled it exactly after "The Night Before Christmas". It was so cute. My favorite line was: "Our poetry books were hung by the white board with care, in the hopes that the last day of school soon would be there." I promptly began crying, and that was the theme for the rest of the day.
3. We had our last "family gathering" of the year. This is when the whole grade gets together for a mini-assembly. At the assembly, the teachers sat back while the students ran the whole thing. My team teacher and I sat in amazement thinking about the kids who were terribly behaved, low in skills, and less-than-stellar leaders at the beginning of the year. And here they were, leading a meeting for the whole grade. That's a good feeling. Then one of my students stood up to give a "shout out" to all of her teachers because she "really didn't want to go to YES, but because of her teachers, doesn't want to go anywhere else now." And I cried again.
4. We passed out TAKS results at the end of the day. I have one student who got kicked out of YES two years ago. She went to another school for a year and then came back to YES. She failed 7th grade at YES and repeated the grade. This year, she struggled and began failing again. She was constantly in trouble. Then, she began to improve. I found out today that she passed all of the TAKS tests - reading, writing, and math. And - get this - she got a 100% on the math TAKS!!! She was ecstatic, and it really reminded me what is possible.
5. To add a little comic relief to the day, the kids did the traditional middle school last day of school activity: writing on each other. I don't know why kids do this. But they love it. I guess we used to do that? Anyway, it's a tradition that is still going strong. Today I signed: about 50 t-shirts, a binder, a backpack, a book, and a pair of pants. Yes, a pair of pants. The kids were all signing shirts when I looked up and found that one of my special students had asked other kids to write all over her jeans. I took a picture to prove it. Good thing I'm not her mom. And apparently it's a new trend to wear a lock on your pant loops. No comment on that one.
When I left the building, I saw this, and I just had to take a picture and I had to laugh. I sure hope everything I taught them stuck in their brains, because here is what is left of their classwork!