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How do you sum up the end of student teaching?

I’ve spent the past few days trying to gather my words, but the truth is I can’t. I don’t know how to put my thoughts into words. Student teaching is over, and I feel as if I’ve lost a part of me.

Thursday was rough, even though student teaching ended on Friday. Most of my students told me that they wouldn’t be in class on Friday, as their parents wanted them to stay home for the end of the world. One girl even told me that her mom “would rather her be raped in killed at home than in school.” Rather than conduct a psychological evaluation of this student, I decided to just nod my head and say “Ummm okay. Happy New Year?”

As a conclusion of my time student teaching, I selfishly plotted for my Creative Writing class to hold a coffeehouse on Thursday as a conclusion to our performance poetry unit. (This is the class that Pandora Scooter came to visit.) The students went above and beyond all expectations. Poems were read, poetry was acted out, and my students kicked major butt. Some of them also chose to read poems dedicated to me, which was sweet and embarrassing all at once. It worked out, though, because I had written them a poem as well.

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We took a class photo on Wednesday and I am obligated to blur out their faces…but you can still tell how dang stylish they are.

One of my students, the one I’ve written about before, gave me a goodbye gift on Thursday. It was my first “teacher gift,” and I’ll forever hold it close to my heart. It’s a beautifully bound journal with the phrase “Live in Hope” written on the front because “I give her hope in herself.”

I was very close to crying at the end of that class period, and it didn’t help when some of my students hugged me goodbye. I couldn’t help but think I’d be a hot mess on Friday.

On Friday, I somehow made it to the very end of the day without crying.

I stayed up almost all night on Thursday baking for the ladies in the office, my students, and the faculty at my school, as well as writing out individual holiday cards to each and every one of my students.

I went into school early, placed a cake in the faculty room, and sent out the following message:

To everybody at __HS–

Thank you for making my student teaching experience such a pleasant one. You have all made me feel like part of the __HS family, and I am grateful to have spent my student teaching internship in ________________________. I’m going to miss all of you! As a thank you for the kindness and warmth you have shown me, I have left a cake in the faculty room to express my gratitude. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a happy and healthy 2013! I hope to see you all again in the near future.

All my best,
Kailynn

I really do feel as if the school has become my second family, and I really don’t know what I’m going to do without them.

I knew Friday would be sad, but I didn’t expect so many people to remember it was my last day. Students and faculty all gave me gifts to wish me a merry Christmas or commemorate my last day of student teaching.

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I can’t remember the last time I felt this loved.

All day long my students showed me an incredible amount of love. One student from my first period class came back to see me 5 times because she didn’t want me to leave. Another student shyly gave me a gift, apologized for it, and mumbled how she had saved up to buy me something nice, that she was sorry it was so small. (She bought me a beautiful pair of fluffy pink socks, which will forever mean more to me than any other gift because I know how hard she worked to get it for me.)

It was very hard not to cry when some of my students started getting teary eyed in class. Around 3am on Friday I had begun to regret my decision to write out individual, heart-felt messages to each of my students, but all of that regret was wiped away when I saw (and heard) their excitement in getting personalized holiday cards. Some students squealed, one girl said she was going to cry, one boy actually couldn’t believe that I took the time to write out a card for each and every student, and most of the students were really excited that I wrote out cards for them. One kid even said, “I never got my own Christmas card before! Missssss!” I really did try to write something different for each and every student, and, although I reached a point of being pretty generic around 2am on Friday, I pretty much succeeded. The students were also elated that I wanted to keep in touch with them and had included my “Teacher Twitter” and email address for them to stay in touch with.

I received a lot of hugs on Friday, along with a lot of love and warmth. I’ve already started receiving emails from my students, and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do without them in the upcoming weeks. Student teaching was an influential part of my life, and I know now more than ever that I am destined to be a teacher, specifically in an urban district where students need me the most.

Gosh I love teaching.

A Sestina for The Island of Misfits, December 2012

I wrote this poem for my Creative Writing students. They put together a coffeehouse for our class tomorrow, and they asked me to perform in it. What they don’t know is I wrote them a poem to say thank you… Oh, and “The Island of Misfits” is what they decided to call their coffeehouse. Gosh I love these kids, I’m going to miss them terribly.

A Sestina for The Island of Misfits, December 2012
From Ms. B, with gratitude

Summer haze melted into Winter nights,
and, somehow, time too has passed.
Questions were asked,
words were said,
and hearts were shared
in the safety of poetry.

Some didn’t anticipate writing poetry,
and others didn’t anticipate writing late into the night.
Thoughts danced on paper before they were shared.
Moments of marveling and wonder passed,
and the struggle was said.
Eventually, the tough questions were asked.

What was asked?
“How do you perform poetry?”
“Can you write that abab thing? What was it you said?”
“You go to open mics? At night?”
“Would it be okay if I just passed?”
“Do I have to share?”

Alas, you did share.
Each and every one of you opened your mouths, asked
for permission to let words pass
through your lips in the form of poetry,
to let your words leap into the night.
Then you all embraced what was said.

I’ll always hold dear what you shared and said–
stories of superheroes and sidekicks were shared,
along with tales of love, life, loss, and dark nights.
Intuitive questions were asked,
and you all slowly realized that you were writing poetry
as the days and weeks eventually passed.

You know what else passed?
Your hearts onto paper, with what was said.
Your fears came to life, and lived within your timidly-read-aloud poetry.
I commend you for all that you said, all that you wrote and shared.
Your talents soared far beyond what I could have asked.
It is your poetry that put a smile on my face on seemingly endless nights.

So, for this, I thank you for what was shared,
going beyond what was asked,
and giving me hope as you all turned into poets, your words exploding into the night.

“You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering…would you take a bullet for us? Be honest.”

I’ve blogged about my student teaching experiences before, and how I’ve handled my sexuality in the classroom, dealing with the aftermath of Sandy in my school, and other experiences. However, I never expected to have students ask me if I would take a bullet for them.

After some reflection, and getting the go-ahead from my cooperating teacher, I decided to discuss Friday’s shooting in my classes today by opening up with a Do Now that read “What have you heard about Newtown, Connecticut?” I figured that this would open up a conversation if students wanted to discuss it, and even if they didn’t, writing a response in their journals would allow them to at least process it a bit.

I allowed the first 10-15 minutes of two of my classes for students to discuss the shooting and the fears, and my double period spent the entire first period of class discuss the shooting and why violence happens. It was a really insightful conversation. We even discussed the history of school shootings, and whether or not there’s a difference between a school shooting in an elementary school versus a school shooting in a high school. My Creative Writing class talked about the shooting for about half of the period. In all of my classes, we discussed the different stories that had been emerging, as well as the differences between fact and fiction regarding internet rumors about the shooting. This led to the discussion of various individuals who had either lived or died, and how the media had conveyed them.

At one point, one of my Creative Writing students said, “You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering…would you take a bullet for us? Be honest.” I responded, “Am I ever anything BUT honest with you?” (The question initially caught me offguard, but it was something I was asked more than once today.) Then I asked for a moment to gather my thoughts before stating the following:

“As a teacher, I feel my number one priority is to create a safe learning environment for my students, and to make them feel protected and safe. Teachers are responsible for the well-being of their students, and I’d do anything in my power to protect you from harm’s way. While I hope I never have to dive in front of a bullet for any of my students, the fact of the matter is I care about all of you and would put your needs before my own, as I have done multiple times without you realizing it, because you are my responsibility, and because I care about all of you a lot.”

My students trust me to protect them and support them, and I don’t think I’d be okay with the idea of me not doing so. My answer might change slightly in a few years when I have a family of my own, but my students will still be my students and my responsibilities won’t change.

I think that reassured them more than anything else. I’ve also been reiterating in all of my classes that, even when I leave on Friday (my last day of student teaching), I’m here for my students if they need to talk, and that I do care about each and every one of them oh-so much.

Victoria Soto, the teacher who hid her students in their cubbies and then took a bullet for them, has been on my mind a lot this weekend. I found myself questioning whether or not I’d have the courage to take a bullet for my students, and, at the end of the day, there is no question about it. Protecting my students and helping them succeed to the best of my abilities is a large part of being a teacher. If this meant taking a bullet for them, then yes, I would, because my students mean the world to me.

teachers

I saw this floating around Facebook today and it seemed fitting for today’s post.