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….