Just making the invite list was informative. For example, every person I know on Facebook whose last name starts with "P," with one exception, is someone I know through teaching. I realized only a fraction of the 133 people I invited would be able to come, if only because not many people can change their 9 am weekday plans with only three days notice. But I was pleasantly surprised at the responses I got and by how many people showed up. Since I couldn't be sure if Thursday would be by final day of teaching or not, I wanted to err on the side of caution and do it right. The video, I think, attests to the fact that if Thursday was indeed my swan song, I went out on the right note.
(The final eight minutes are just me saying goodbyes, so if you only need to watch the first seven...)
By my count, eleven of the fourteen students in this Drama and Speech summer school class have personally been through or witnessed a family member go through an incredibly difficult challenge. One student battled cancer last spring, another's sister died from the disease a few years ago. One had a kidney transplant when he was in grade school, and another student's older brother had a double lung transplant necessitated by Cystic Fibrosis a few years ago. We, as a class, bonded in an incredible way over the course of twenty days. In the sixty hours we spent together, we shared our Bad News Bears histories, which gave us a common ground unlike any I've experienced before as a teacher. I'm sure it seemed outrageous to some when I said back in June that I was looking forward to teaching summer school. But even I'm surprised at what I'm feeling right now: three days after saying goodbye, and I already miss my summer school students. I sincerely hope that I get to see them again in the halls of the high school as a teacher in the fall.