A mere 2.5 weeks remain to the school year, but it felt like my school was coming apart at the seams today. The copiers are broken down and the repair guy refuses to come, we're trying to juggle end-of-year scheduling changes that upend any sense of normalcy, and it was just feeling a little like we all had four different simultaneous and conflicting lunch meetings. Plus it's been raining, which leaves our old building feeling sticky.
I was a bit out of sorts all day today and found myself snapping at the kids more than was absolutely necessary. They were cheerful and loving in spite of this, however, which made the day go more smoothly than it otherwise might have. Two of my girls meandered by my open door today and lamented the fact that soon they would go to 10th grade and not have me for their teacher and advisor any more. Their solution to this was that I should keep them as pets. I would, you know, but I doubt I could find an appropriately sized travel carrier.
The kids just finished their project where each of the three class sections acted as a production company; the classes competed against one another to see who could create and pitch the best comedy news program. It's the first time I've taught this project. It was entirely student-run. Each "company" had a student executive producer (who oversaw the entire enterprise), business supervisor (in charge of the research and marketing departments), and production supervisor (in charge of the writers, actors, and production team). They were told they had just over two weeks to be ready to present to the network's Executive Board, and by golly, they did it. It was nothing short of amazing to behold.
I avoided any and all questions by donning my "Ms. Carbon, Copier Technician" name tag each day. Ms. Carbon was so pleased to be working for the company, but she hadn't the slightest idea of how to help any of the employees figure out the best way to accomplish their goals - they had to rely on one another for that. I loved watching this happen.
During the course of the project any number of surprising and beautiful things occurred. For example, upon discovering that her marketing department had been sneakily tearing down the other companies' advertisements, one business supervisor insisted that her staff re-hang all the posters and then write an official apology memo to the marketing departments of the other two companies. One day found the executive producer of another class teaching her business supervisor - who had been arguing with his departments - what being a good leader means. She sat with all of them and listened as the research department complained that their supervisor criticized all their work without seeing what they had done well, and he countered that they still had a long way to go before the work would be up to standard. The executive producer stopped him and explained that he could demand high quality work from his group, but that he had to offer suggestions and assistance, that strong leadership meant supporting those below you and acknowledging their accomplishments. This out of the mouth of a 14-year-old, to her friend, no less.
They helped each other research, format works cited pages, develop characters, design costumes, create ad campaigns, and ultimately to explore controversial issues through the use of comedy.
The child who has developed the habit of farting in the closet professionalized this behavior by referring to his spot as "the company closet." As in, "I need to use the company closet." One day as he did this the following occurred:
Student #1 goes into closet, only head sticking out.
Student #2 (Executive Producer): "What are you doing?"
Student #1: "This is part of company policy."
Student #2: "Close the door, at least."
4 days ago