Monday, May 4, 2009

The end is nigh

Today during my second period Algebra class, a student asked me when the Final Exam for my class will be. "June 10th" I responded, knowing full well the ire that this answer would produce. And I wasn't disappointed -- the wrath was significant. They felt that the 10th was far too late, and made such feelings known (loudly). I, of course, didn't care.

I was shocked during my first year of teaching when I told students that the final exam would be the last week of school, and they informed me that they "don't come to school in June." I was so confused. You don't come to school in June? But you must! I asked come colleagues and heard from them, "yeah, no kids come in June." Turns out they mustn't.

Where on earth did people get the idea that students don't have to come to school in June? Perhaps their parents told them, perhaps they got the idea from other students, perhaps they've just realized over the years that many teachers stop teaching in June. Or perhaps they just don't want to come to school in June, and thought that if they presented it to me as a fact -- "I don't come in June" -- I'd just say OK. Whatever the reason, they maintained that no one would show up if I held the final any later than May 31. I stuck to my guns and gave the final the last week of school. Lo and behold, all of the students who had a mathematical chance of passing the class (which was most) showed up for the final.

So today, when kids pitched a fit and told me that they don't come to school in June, I had my snarky response all ready: "Sounds good, see you next year." They didn't think that was funny.

11 comments:

Wyrm said...

I got that too, and my response was pretty much the same as yours. Sadly, about half of my kids didn't come for their final. I called all their parents and got about 15 of them on Finals "Make-up" day and a LOT of dirty looks
:-)

Toby said...

I thought I pretty much knew my way around DCPS, but this is a new one for me: not coming to school in June. And being all bold and announcing, "I don't come to school in June."

Progressive Educator said...

"See you next year." Wonderful response!

Allie said...

Ummm...yeah. We don't do school in June. Actually that's a lie, in high school we didn't do school after graduation. Graduation we would assemble en mass; and the second the last senior crossed the stage we were never to be heard from again. In elementary school June after testing is basically glorified babysitting.

Toby said...

Allie's point about what happens at school after testing had not been discussed until now. This is also one of the problems with the intense focusing on testing. And now it's over. At our school, we were so geared up for the DC CAS, and we just finished, it's like there's nothing else to do. Of course, that's not true, but it feels like that, both for students and teachers.

Daniel said...

Nice job sticking to your guns. I love it.

FoggyDew said...

Stunned is one word I'd use to describe my reaction. Good work having the final when you did. I used to think my school was just being a pain making us go until deep into June, but now I know better.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” - Mark Twain

steve said...

As a teacher in DCPS in SE, I can totally relate to your reaction. Last year, I think I was one of the few teachers to have his/her final in the 2nd week of June. This year, I just started Julius Caesar, and we won't even finish reading the play until the beginning of June. I'm hoping this will keep the kids coming into June.

Glenn Watson said...

I do not understand this. In my system the school tells me when exams are and we all have them at a scheduled time. Do you get to pick when and if you are giving an exam? Why would the exam be at any time other than the last day of the school year? If you give the exam early what do you teach after the exam?

sam said...

Good for you. Even Middle school kids stop coming in June. Our school decided to do "fun afternoons" for the last two weeks of June, meaning basically kids have all classes in the morning and a fun assembly/field trip/theme day every day. It worked pretty well in keeping attendance much higher than usual..it's amazing how kids WILL show up if there is a no uniform day.

Mr. Potter said...

Glenn,

In my school there is no schedule of when you have to give your exams. The only reason to give it early is that if every teacher gave it on the last day, then kids would have 4 finals in one day (which isn't really very fair -- so I'll be giving mine three days before the last day).

In answer to your question, "If you give the exam early what do you teach after the exam?" I will be doing origami and other fun math stuff, but I know that I won't have many students. As far as the teachers who give their exams a full 2 weeks early -- well, I don't know what they'll be doing. An extended unit on twiddling thumbs?