Requiem #1

Yesterday, one of our first school-wide assemblies since the start of the year.  My grade was almost uninvited due to concerns about behavior, but I argued that we can’t teach them to be a good audience unless we let them be an audience, prepare them, and resolve problems as they arise.  So we resolved to discuss audience behavior in advisory and to have a consistent response to problems.  In the end it worked pretty well, at least for the kids from where I was sitting forward.

The assembly started with a 20 minute remembrance of a student – one of my babies from sixth grade two years ago who would be in 8th now – that was heartbreaking for all.  Her closest friends read poems and sang “Amazing Grace” and another song in her memory, we had a moment of silence… children cried, they comforted each other, I got really choked up but tried to focus on my kids, some of whom were sobbing (caught up in the sheer emotion or thinking of someone they knew) and some of whom were just confused, since none of them knew the girl.  It was nice but I wish it hadn’t been a surprise.

The rest of the assembly was a performance of the eighth graders’ ballroom dance routines, which they learned with the same organization that was featured in Mad Hot Ballroom.  Although I’ve never actually been a part of the dance instruction because it’s been for the 8th grade while I teach sixth, it was my initial phone calls that brought them to our school, and so I feel a pang of pride that it has turned out so well, and the kids seem to enjoy it.  The little boy next to me, one whom I stood next to on purpose – you teachers understand me – turned out to know all the dance routines and could barely restrain himself from counting out the beats; he’d done the program at his elementary school.  I love moments like that which challenge the conventional wisdom about a given kid….

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Requiem #1

  1. 15 more years

    We only have the ballroom dance program for our 5th graders (we’re a K-8 school), and they were so adorable at their recital yesterday! It was funny to see little 5th grade boys dancing with the girls and trying not to touch them. They were so proud of themselves in their shirts and ties and frilly dresses.

    We think the program is going to be cut next year- I’m trying to think of ways that we can keep it going- what a tragedy for these kids to miss out on the exposure to the arts, socialization, self-discipline that the program has to offer.

  2. i’m so sorry to hear that you lost a student. how truly awful for you all.

    however, that’s wonderful that you saw another side to a challenging student.

  3. My sympathies to you regarding the loss of your student. I’m going through the same thing right now, as one of my 8th graders was killed in a skiing accident during winter vacation last month. There is something that is simultaneously gut-wrenchingly unnatural and so inspiring about children comforting each other as they mourn one of their own, isn’t there?

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