So I’ve got a class of seniors this year. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time for a variety of reasons: the challenge, the change of pace. I wondered if I could relate to an older student more so than a freshman. I wanted to see if the maturity made much of a difference. I’m only five days into the school year, but I’m starting to realize some of the challenges I’ve taken on.
First of all, I’m exhausted. I want to do a good job for them, so I’m researching, reading, and grading more than I have in a long time. Having 4 preps to take care of can do that, I guess. A few years ago, I had one class period of sophomores, and I felt like I cheated them, not spending enough time with their lessons. I don’t want that to happen to these seniors. I like ’em.
Freshmen come in somewhat malleable; they don’t have a clue how they’re supposed to act in high school, and that buys me a lot of time to set up some expectations, before they fall back on old habits.
Seniors, on the other hand, come in bored. They’ve had three more years than freshmen, of soul-crushing school routines. Are they more acquiescent? Sure, but they’re numb, too. Part of me is relishing the quiet of the class, reluctant to shake things up too much. Another part of me wants their final year of high school Literature to be as fun and memorable as possible, curriculum-be-damned. Right now, I’m afraid to loosen the reins, though.
I’m doing the Nicenet online forums in my classes. Tonight’s the deadline to post a thoughtful response to the board for all of my students. About 30% of my freshmen have done it. Only 2 out of 31 of my seniors have bothered. So they’re definitely not as enthusiastic as I had hoped.
Maybe the grade will encourage seniors a little more since their finish line is finally within sight. I know 9th graders are seldom motivated by the idea of graduating; it’s so far away. We’re about to start reading the Literature book’s version of Beowulf. I hope they find the spirit to care just a little more