Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 351- Celebration Presentation

I had an unexpected good day.  Those are the best.

It was a "B" day half day today.  Without getting too much into a boring explanation, these kinds of half days include all kinds of different activities that are fun for our students but kind of make us want to pull our hair out (because they involve a ton of planning, create a frenzy, and don't result in a whole lot of academic learning).  Once the kids leave, we still have a whole afternoon of meetings added on top of the whole thing.  The goal on these days for many of us is to make it through and to grin and bear it while hoping that the kids have a good time.  Scratch that.  It's okay if they don't have a good time.  We really just want everyone to make it out alive with no incidents.

One of our rotations for these days is celebrations time.  This is a time for us to give out awards and recognize kids on our team.  Usually we do academic awards for excellence and for the most improved students.  However, since we're not at the end of this quarter yet, we pushed those off for the next B day.  In our team meeting last week, I had the idea that maybe we could do a "12 Days 'Til Winter Break" countdown instead that would involve celebrating kids for other things.  Everyone really seemed to like the idea, and I thought it would be easy to throw together and fun for the kids.

I was maybe not so right about the easy part of this equation.  Since I seem to be incapable of doing anything halfway anymore, I spent hours going all out creating a beautiful PowerPoint, complete with school pictures of the kids, winter graphics, and all kinds of little details.  I brainstormed on my own and with my team at lunch to come with all kinds of things that our kids do and silly things to throw into the mix.  Here's what we ended up with:

12 (plus ten) Drummers Drumming (and playing other instruments)  Band kids from our team
11 BFFs  This was 11 pairs of friends attached at the hip, complete with made-up combined names (like "Magma" for Maggie and Emma and "Aack!" for Alex and Jack)  
10 Dribblers Dribbling  Boys and girls involved in our 8th grade basketball program
9 Broken Bodies  Kids who have had casts and/or crutches this year
8 Singers Singing Show Choir kids
7 Blurters a-Blurting Another teacher's idea for our kids who looooove and need attention.  We gave it to 'em today!
6 Members of Cast and Crew Students involved in the fall play
5 Skateboarding Kings Self explanatory, no?
4 With Bieber Fever... and 4 Justin Biebers Four girls who are super fans and four boys with the haircut who like to flip it, flip it, flip it
3 Wizards of Robotics Students on our robotics teams
2 Musicians Playing Our two kids who qualified for the Metro 8 District Band... a huge honor
...and 1 (insert a bunch of adjectives like witty and fabulous here that I typed out into a big long list) Team!!

At the end I made a "Happy Holidays!" slide with a picture of the Charlie Brown Christmas where I labeled all of our team teachers with little arrows.  I was Woodstock.

I spent a ton of time over the last couple of days working on this to make it special and silly and to include as many kids as possible.  It had to be just right.  I was all excited to show all of the other teachers this morning as they filed into school, and I was even more thrilled that they giggled and were excited to show it to our kids too. 

When it came time to do the presentation, the social studies teacher on my team introduced it (Ms. L. of "hanging index cards").  She went through this whole deal about how hard I had worked and how thankful she was to have me on our team and weren't the kids thankful too... yadda yadda yadda.  It was really sweet, but I was totally embarrassed.  I am terrible at taking compliments.  Plus, I didn't do all of this so that people would tell me how wonderful I am.  Rather, I did it in the hopes that our kids would realize how wonderful they are.

It was a hit.

As I flipped through the slides, my scan of the room was met with smiling faces filled with joy.  It was fun to watch as kids spotted their own pictures up on the big screen and squealed with delight as they saw their friends too.  We were able to include tons of kids and to recognize them for all kinds of things that they do.  A few of them came up afterwards with "How did you know?" kinds of questions.  I think it's great for them to realize and understand that all of their teachers know who they are, what they're involved in, and what they're about.  We're interested in them.  The reactions that we got from the kids make the extra hours I spent this week all worth it.  Truly. 

Disclaimer: There's another moment that I'd like to record.  I really hope it doesn't come off sounding like I'm full of myself because that's not it at all.  I simply want to write this one down to remember because it was special to me. 

We went through the slideshow once in order for kids to take a good look at everything.  Then, we went through a bunch more times so that they could sing along like in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  I'd start at the beginning and add on a new slide each time.  Early into this process, a low incidence special education student ran up to my computer and wanted to push me out of the way.  His aid ran up after him, but I gave her a quick glance to let her know that there was no problem.  As the kids were singing one of the slides, I whispered some directions to him and pointed to the button to advance the slides.  He took over the manning of the PowerPoint and grinned up at me.  When I tried to take back over to get back to the beginning again, he was not having it.  So, once again I gave him some quick hushed directions, and a cue, and he was on his way.  For the rest of the show, I would give him quick nonverbal cues, and he ran it like a pro.

When the whole thing was over, the kids were leaving, and I was unhooking my laptop, the boy's aid came up to talk to me.  She thanked me profusely and told me that she was really impressed with how I had handled the whole thing.  She said that if I had tried to fight the kid on it, we probably would have had a big scene.  Because I was able to roll with the punches, we had a nice little moment instead.  Ms. L., hearing this conversation, said, "Oh... that wasn't planned?"  My little sidekick and I pulled it off smoothly :).

Again, I was completely embarrassed and tried to minimize everything.  I told her that it was no big deal and that I just thought he might like to enjoy the button.  She thanked me again and told me that she just couldn't get over the fact that I did exactly the right thing.

Although I am terrible at accepting this kind of praise, it is meaningful to me just the same.  I like to store these compliments up until I get home.  Here I can privately unwrap them and savor them (and reflect on them on the old blog, apparently).  It's nice to be recognized and appreciated, however fleeting those moments may be sometimes.

At the end of the day, the most thrilling thing is that I'm pretty sure that I made a whole lot of kids feel good about themselves.  I'm not sure that there's a much better feeling than that.  It's a huge part of why I went into teaching and why I teach eighth grade.  I had some teachers who were very special to me around that time who gave me some self confidence boosts that I still think about to this day.  I don't need these kids to remember me, but I hope that they remember the feeling that they had today when their pictures were on the big screen and everyone was cheering for them.

Thank you, celebration presentation, you made my day.         

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