Farewell to my Grade 8’s of 2011

Long before they ever came to me, my class has referred to themselves as “the bad” class.  They may have picked up this phrase from the other teachers they’ve had since the beginning on their school career, parents of classmates, other parents, or outsiders who don’t know them.

But after spending a year with them, here’s what I know for certain…they are not a “bad” class.  Challenging at times?  Sure.  But realistically, what class isn’t?  I would never call them “bad” and I’ve encouraged them to stop labelling themselves that way.

These are some of the memories I have of this year’s class:

1)  CR trying to take me out with a football thrown straight to my head (now while this might sound bad, I can assure you it wasn’t deliberate and was actually quite funny because of his horrified reaction).  Oh…and later on the pencil-almost-in-the-eye accident which I think traumatized AS more than it did me!

2)  The ten minute debate I have with SW in the middle of Social Studies class over where the name “The Black Death” spawned from.

3)  The awful youTube vidoes they sucked me into watching regarding awful disaster where bones get broken because they thought my cringe of disgust was hilarious.  By the way, I learned that when my student’s come running up to me with a laptop and squeal, “Ms. O you’ve gotta see this!” I should probably run in the opposite direction.

4)  MM taking her Elmo pinata and wearing it on her own head.  The resemblence was remarkable!

5)  Watching one of my student’s scream at the Smart board when it wouldn’t do what he wanted it to do (seriously, I cried I was laughing so hard).

6)  Their amazing work on their Mythbuster, Bust a Myth contest!  They worked harder on this than anything else this year and the best part was, it was a complete departure from the “standard” curriculum for a whole month.

7)  The Ultimate Drink Contest for our advertising unit and my twenty minute argument with SW on why the VP of our school had every right to censor his unforgettable slogan. (He still thinks he’s right, by the way, haha!)

8 )  Kids returning from Foods class with treats for their “favorite teacher”.

9)  The fact that some of the chairs in my room continuously and “spontaneously” dumped several of my students onto the floor this year.

10)  And last (for this blog anyways) but not least…….My simply amazing hour long class on STI’s where I think afterwards they were not only forming their own abstinence club but I’m pretty sure some of them have sworn off all human contact just to be safe.  They may have had nightmare about a certain pink sweater from Grade 7’s sex ed class….but they claim I traumatized them for life.  My whole goal this year was to out do the pink sweater incident of 2010 so…..VICTORY!!

Has there been drama?  Yes.

Has there been the odd suspension here and there?  Yes.

Have there been moments that have made me laugh so hard my stomach ached?  Heck yes!

Have there been more ups than downs?  Absolutely.

Will I miss certain things about this year?  Always.

Is it time for them to move on and experience what else life has to offer?  Completely.

Every year I get students who say, “We wish you would come with us Ms. O!  Come teach us in Grade 9!” A compliment to be sure, and not one I take lightly.

My response is always the same smile and these words:  “While I would love nothing better, part of growing up is to move ‘away from home’.”  We are a family in our middle school.  Each year we live within our homerooms and most of their classes are taught by us.  I even had one of my student’s this year refer to me as her “teacher-mom”.  But all children must eventually fly from the nest and this years class is no different.

They enter high school next year, which is just up the stairs.  And as the Grade 8 teacher I find many of them visit quite frequently in the first few days.  Then the number starts to dwindle….then the visits become few and far between….and then they just about stop altogether.

Such is the lot of the Grade 8 teacher.  But like any “teacher-mom” I always smile as I watch them grow up and evolve into full fledged highschool students.  And on graduation day I look at them all dressed up in their pretty dresses and handsome tuxes and I think to myself…..”Ah!  They look all grown up now, but I remember a time back in Grade 8 when….”

No class is ever forgotten.  The memories remain from their time in their temporary home in my classroom.

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About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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