Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Diploma anxiety

As any of you who know me already know, I'm a high school teacher. I taught the grade 12 Alberta Chemistry course for the first time this Fall, and have been waiting anxiously for the past month to see how my students did on their diploma exams. I was able to unofficially check their results today.

Overall, a good average for my bunch of students. There were 4 (out of 50-ish) who failed, a reasonable amount. For most of these, their grade indicated they hadn't even seriously tried - not my preferred approach to a serious-enough endeavour, but that's their choice. I'd rather that they were serious with themselves earlier and admitted that they didn't care and weren't going to try anyway, thus avoiding the role of anchor to my otherwise buoyant course average. A great plus is that my teaching has smoothed a lot from last semester's choppy delivery. Should one of you students happen by here, mea culpa - unfortunately, choppiness is characteristic of most teachers the first time through a course - I'm sorry I wasn't much different in that regard.

On a happy note, several of my stronger (and favourite) students achieved an increase to their already-good marks. Kudos to them for their hard work - without any false modesty, it truly is due to their willingness to put in the last good efforts on what is a marathon course. The few who dropped like stones in a well gave up the race as the finish line approached. I'm sure they know their strengths lie elsewhere, and will apply themselves thusly.

On a related note, I've had an ominous feeling of 'empty nest' starting to build this year, particularly at the end of the previous semester. I've taught a lot of this year's graduates (probably two thirds of 500) and will miss very many of them (a few I'll be glad to miss). After about 8 years of teaching, this is the first time I'll be really experiencing this. My movement from place to place prior to now has sheltered me from these feelings. Intentionally or not, I've invested a lot of myself in these kids, and I feel cut off from the younger grades coming up now. It will be a real challenge next year to make personal connections even approaching those I feel with this group. Alas, I'm not sure they realize how much they mean to me, and I'm not the sappy type to go tell them while I blubber. I'll content myself to enjoy them these last months while they're still here, and then I'll deal with whatever follows as it comes.