Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Farewells Begin

Testing begins
I've been administering the last of my tests this week. I decided to administer all of mine this week along with senior finals. Underclassmen finals were not scheduled until next week, but it was going to work best for me and my students to take our last test this week. As you may have read in one of my recent posts, our senior final exam schedule was surprisingly moved up in the week, as we learned last Friday. Finals began Monday.

My test is designed to mainly assess if my students have grasped some of the bigger concepts and overall pictures I have hoped to have instilled in some of them this year. Basically to see if I've helped to get some of their brains to think and be curious about things. One question asked the students to think about what it was like for their ancestors to live on the island and compare that to what it is like now. What is different? How did people live off of nature?

Learning Something
As I read through the answers and was grading the exams, quite a few of my students did actually understand what my question was truly about. Many commented on how there is a lot of littering on the island now and how that is not a good thing. So, they're understanding the idea conceptually. I have seen improvement in my classroom. At the beginning of the year, there was constantly trash left on my floor, in the bookshelves, and in the windows. It's still not as clean as it could be, but I definitely don't find as much trash lying around. Perhaps that is one thing I have began to teach some of these young island minds this year.

Schedule Change
The original schedule they gave to us Friday said we would be releasing at 1:15pm on Monday and  Tuesday after final exams and 12:25pm on Wednesday. Pretty basic final schedule we have had all year. Well, came in Tuesday to find that they were adding classes back on Tuesday afternoon. One can only review topics so many times. In the bulletin it said "Review" for those classes tacked on. Guess what? That's what we were already supposed to be doing with the underclassmen as seniors took their exams. These kids can only be contained so long. It also said in the bulletin "Sorry for the inconvenience." haha

As to be expected, most of my students didi not show up for those classes that were tacked back on at the end of the day. Later learned that apparently some students were causing trouble somewhere in town Monday afternoon, and the school received some complaints. So, this led to the extra "babysitting" time. Like I said, though, many students still skipped out. I begin to understand more and more why my students behave like they do sometimes. Particularly the apathy.

 When things just change like this, and the teachers are not always prepared, what do they expect us to do? I had already planned on sharing a video anyway with my students, as they had already completed my test. Why did I give some of my tests early? I knew the students have "checked out" long ago. It would be miserable for me and them to try to continue to learn new information. We've covered the basics, and I knew attendance would be dropping. Sad here. Real sad. They don't care about skipping classes, students and teachers are surprised with last minute schedule changes, and a whole lot of other things. It could be better. I'm not saying the school system I grew up in was perfect, but this is definitely not working. The craziness of this week really got me thinking about the system more and more. The way they worded it and the way people act when things like this happen, the teachers really are more or less being asked to "babysit" for the afternoon. I'm babysitting high schoolers, mind you.

First Student Farewell
One of my really great students told me last week he would be heading off island with his family for a trip Monday. He was excused from his finals. I have a few t-shirts I've decided to give to some students as little reminders of their teacher from Nebraska. Vimoto has commented on SERVE before and asked if that was what I planned on going back to do. Well, sort of... I decided to give him the SERVE t-shirt I had with me. As he left my classroom for the last time on Friday, he came up to me and gave me a bro-hug and said he would miss me. Let the farewells begin... I left him my e-mail. He's a really great kid. Came on my little after school field trip to the National Park Visitor Center, even though he was there once before on our school field trip. He also brought some friends along that day.

Ukulele Thanks
Fa'ai'u had a big smile on his face, a genuine thank you, and couldn't believe I was actually giving him my ukulele. "But, Miss Boschen, it's yours." I told him I knew I would be leaving it in good hands with him and that he deserved to have an ukulele of his own.

My boys that had been skipping detention with me finally came in, and I was able to speak with them about it. I ended up turning their names into one of the Vice Principals. They hadn't been showing up to serve the time they said the would, and I didn't want to just leave them off the hook. There wasn't anything I could do about them not showing up other than turn them in. The one that shoved me was put on in-school suspension for three days, and when he was back in my class I talked with him about it again. He was rather quiet, but I tried to make sure we were clear on what had gone wrong. Another student finally came in and picked up trash on my floor a few days in a row after speaking with the VP. This was what he had agreed to do for his detention in the first place. Another one came in and cleaned my white board, and the last one swept my room. They all finally paid up, and we were able to talk about it. Not sure if any of it is actually sticking, but I've done what I can with these punks. Yep, these are definitely punks. haha

Many Thanks and a Gift
One of my senior students that has been working so hard this semester and came along on my first Saturday field trip has been beyond thankful. She is one that gave me a candy ula during Teacher Appreciation week that she had made. I mentioned in my article for the Newman Grove Reporter how she has said "thank you" about ten different ways ever since our field trip. Wednesday she walked up to me and handed me this folded piece of paper. I opened it to find a poem about remembering people and finding it hard to say good-bye to people that come in and out of your life. She also put our group picture from the field trip, and wrote a little note on how she will never forget this trip. I gave her a hug. This was super sweet of her. A few students that are being touched by my presence, and they are touching mine. I later showed her how her photo made it in my hometown newspaper with the article I had written. She asked me to e-mail it to her. I ended up with a super thankful response. She also mentioned how it was really cool that I wrote this, and how she is going to save this. Chardine and all her thanks. She is heading to Washington to attend college. I wish her the best of luck and told her she should stay in touch.

Done with Grading
Felt so good to grade my last set of tests. I like my tests, but they definitely take a little time to read through and grade. Throughout the tests, I will find little notes from students telling me thank you, how they will miss me, and some of the things they really enjoyed about my class. One student who knew he didn't even need to try on the test, and he would still pass my class with an A wrote me a little letter throughout his exam. He commented how he was sorry he didn't actually do the test, told me things he had learned, how he was thankful, and how he was really going to miss me. He's told me these things before. One of the boys that spent the entire first couple days of school sitting in my room before signing into my class. I smiled as I read it, chuckled a little, and he earned his A 100%. Been working really hard all year.

Last class with the Seniors
Not very many showed up for 4th period on Thursday, and I don't particularly blame them since they had already taken their final. We never had class after finals were already complete. As I did hand out the final grades to those who were here, it's cool to see some to see some of them light up with a smile and wave that victory fist. It's fun to see their faces light up when they see their hardwork has paid off. Some have been trying extra hard lately to get their grade to the point they really wanted it to be at.

This means I am now done teaching 4th period at Tafuna High School. That is  beyond exciting! Not because 4th period is full of pains in the neck, but mostly due to the fact it is one of the lunch periods. That means frequent skipping, a lot of noise outside my classroom, my biggest class, and 5 minutes longer than any other period I teach. It's nice not having to battle the noise to try to get a decent lesson through. That was one major struggle this year.

Pics to Staff
I forgot to mention that last week I also passed on some photos I had to some of the staff. I had taken some pictures with some of my administrators at our teacher appreciation luau, and I e-mailed those to them. Many responded with an e-mail or in-person thank you. I also printed out a few copies of the photo I took with some of the kitchen staff. They've always been friendly, and I love saying hello to them. The guys that work back there had asked if they could get the photos. I don't mind sharing. That alos led me to printing off a few photos Hannah and I had taken with our head of security. She was pretty excited when I gave those to her, as well.

Lunch with Lilian
I had asked my friend Lilian from church if she would be interested in meeting me for lunch on Wednesday as our original schedule had us getting out at 12:25pm. Well, as you know the schedule changed, and I told her I wasn't sure if it would still work Tuesday night. Then, idea struck me. I had an inkling as to what the real schedule would look like on Wednesday, and I figured I could be to town by 2pm. The only place I could think of that is still serving food at 2pm that way is Samoa's Finest Pizzeria. This is the awesome pizzeria that was originally on the East side of the island but moved to Faga'alu. Lilian liked this idea, so that is indeed where we met Wednsesday afternoon. Her boyfriend, Niu, also joined us. He's a pretty funny guy, and he said "I sure hope you didn't take everything I said seriously." haha I had met him back at the art show for Flag Day.

Neither of us had been to the pizzeria at its new location, and we came in to find that they weren't any tables for dining in the pizzeria. All pretty much take and go. No worries. Lilian suggested taking our food to the park in Utulei, where we could sit at a picnic table. Lilian insisted on paying since this would be our last lunch together. I also said hello to Mary, the owner I spoke with the first time I enjoyed this pizza. She smiled when she realized I was one of the girls that had come on the East side. I picked a piece of vegetable and pepperoni (picked the pepperoni off) that was already made in the warmer. Mary threw in an extra one on the house since I was leaving. Nice of her. I also was intrigued by the garlic fries on the menu and figured I might as well try them. Lilian tried their philly steak sandwich, and Niu had the fried chicken with rice. Not your every day pizzeria. This is a Samoan pizzeria :-)

Not one but two slices of pizza courtesy of Mary and giant plate of garlic fries - all gifts from Lilian today - my farewell lunch. Pizza was delicious just like I remembered. Plus, the garlic fries were pretty yummy, but after a while that garlic became too much. I could feel it all the way through my Zumba workout. haha Should have known better, especially since I was eating so late. Oh well, who knows when my next visit to Samoa's Finest Pizzeria will be. Plus, I was out with one of my good local friends :-) Had to enjoy it. Plus, I had really only eaten fruit and a few veggies so far that day. An apple and some papaya for breakfast and a few apples and some green beans around 11am.

Here is Lilian and me. Little pieces of Samoa in the background - an open fale and a stray dog.

Funky Schedules Leads to Stray Students
So this whole funky schedule changing business leads to quite a few stray students on campus. Just like those stray dogs in here, in some ways. Roaming wherever, causing noise, getting into fights, and thinking they can do whatever they want.  My students had earned a movie day, but I had quite a few random students just showing up in my room. Knowing what trouble they could get into out and about being the stray puppies they are, I let them sit in my room. Seriously babysitting in a sense - just keeping them occupied and out of trouble. There was a big fight during lunch again on Thursday, which my VP was talking about at Zumba. A lot of seniors that really don't need to be on campus anymore since they are finished with finals.

Extra Credit No More
I gave my last opportunity for extra credit, a very minor one at that, last week. I don't really believe in being able to make up for classes one just blatantly skipped. I had made the offers if you had excused absences to come and ask for the make up work, but it's not very often that the students here would even reach out for that. Then, all of a sudden at the end of the semester they are unhappy with the grades they have earned. Tough business. I stuck to my guns and did not waver. It's funny how some of them continue to ask for more work, and when I say no their reply is "Can't I even sweep your room?" Uh, sweeping my room does not constitute extra credit. Apparently this is something they are used to doing, which was something I was sort of aware of last semester. Your grade is what it is at this point.

Have to deal with the consequences of choices you made. I did have one senior student who I realized was only 10 points away from passing my class with a D-. This particular student happens to be one of my brightest students and best writers but missed so many class periods. I decided to see if he would be interested in writing a little essay on why skipping out on one's responsibilities is not a good idea. I know this student had mentioned they had aspirations of being a teacher, and I wanted them to think about this and how responsibilities are important. I was actually quite pleased with the essay the student wrote. He admitted to some of his faults, apologized, and really gave what I assigned some thought. Maybe he'll just toss it away, but I know he's probably still not the happiest camper that he barely passed my class, but that's the way it is. I hope he takes home some of the message I was trying to teach him with this little assignment. After I read it, I went and found him and discussed it with him a bit. He didn't seem upset or anything. I explained I can't just give him a grade, and he made it look like he understood. Hope he pursues his dreams and becomes a bit more responsible. Seriously one bright student that has a lot of potential.

Thursday Exercise
Only did a 17 minute ab workout Thursday morning. I had snacked a bit in the afternoon as I felt hungry. I've been pretty good about eating when I'm hungry. I know it's not healthy to let your body go into starvation mode, but one thing I decided to snack on was a little bag of peanut M&M's. Sure, not too horrible for you, but some portions I did not want to find settling in unwanted places. After school, I had some energy and decided to do a little workout before heading to Zumba. Had nothing better to do, so exercise is a good thing to throw in, rather than just sitting on patootie for the next 40 minutes. Ran through the Insanity warm-up twice and did the hip flexor burner portion of the core workout. Rested up a bit and was off to Zumba. After I got going, I really pushed myself again. Thursday turned into one of those extra determine days in terms of my exercise. I was feeling so good about it, I decided to continue when I made it home. Pulled out the Plyo Cardio Circuit I hadn't done in about a month, I suppose. Wooo doggy was my face sure cherry red after all that. haha Stayed hydrated though, and enjoyed some corn on the cob, some tomatoes, and a piece of bread for dinner afterward. Life is good.

Hard to believe I only have one more week with this Zumba family, though. I will miss them. Hopefully going hiking with some of them Monday morning. I also have another field trip planned this Saturday. Hope you all have a great weekend! This post may have seemed a bit all over the place, but let's just go with it. :-)

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