My Swan Song

I don’t know how much longer I will be in education, so I wanted to share this before it is to late…

These are little things that I do throughout the year that seem separate, but I tie them together on the last day of school. And as my students, other teachers, and myself are in a pool of tears. We say goodbye. 

On my first day of school. I introduce myself.

Welcome POWERPOINT (fear)

After our first extremely challenging problem that usually(purposefully) makes a student want to rip their hair out. I show this clip, and as I show this clip I stand right next to the board just staring at them, turning the volume up throughout the clip. As it finishes I lean forward and I am usually choked up because this clip just hits me in the feels, I say “this is all I ever want from you…… Your best!!!!” and I tell them “I promise …..Promise you will get mine”….”I’m tearing up right now….lol”

Weeks later  we talk about motivation, hopes, and dreams. I play this clip from Dan Pink. After the video each student writes their sentence, even though some can’t at the time, I tell them its due two weeks before the end of school and they laugh and think I’m joking.

Months later, during or a little before anti-bully week. I show this. “its a little longer, but so worth the watch!!!”

When the video ends I have 5 writing prompts on the board.  

1) I have been bullied….what,where,why,how

2) I have bullied…..what,where,why,how

3) No one knows I want to be ………

4) what are the names and labels others have given me…..

5) what are names and labels that I have given myself……..

I lust let them spill their hearts. I collect it when they finish. I have had a girl write 8 pages to me.  

The next day I have each student write something honest and nice about everyone in the classroom, or any student in any of my classes.  I created a Google form to make this organized and easy to do.

Then on the day before the last day of school, I give my swan song, My last lecture. “inspired by  Randy Pausch’s Last lecture “

This is my last lecture:

Upon finishing the last lecture I have a sealed envelope for each student. It contains all the wonderful things that were said about them and a personal message from me to them. I include about their writings from the Dan Pink video and their writings from the bully video.  I promise myself that I spend at least 30-45 mins writing to each student.  So as soon as I finish my last lecture I tell them to go ahead and open your letter.   Here are a few examples.

A , B , and C

So, In a pool of tears, we say goodbye

I love my students

3 thoughts on “My Swan Song

  1. jenisesexton says:

    Talk about leaving a legacy, planting a positive seed and being truly intentional with the work you do. So often teaching is a haphazard process as we balance being more than just teachers. If every teacher took the time to truly and intentionally invest in their students we could have a major shift. A shift to more empathic students, self motivated students and sincere students. And I honestly believe that these things make educating kids, young adults and teenagers much easier and long-lasting.

    Marvelous post, thank you for sharing.

    • mrkent800 says:

      Thank you for your words.

      I always held my focus in my classroom as…. How do I get students to love math if they grew up loathing it for 9 years of school.

      I do that by getting them to love me. And If they love me they will love my work and if they love my work then they will love math.

      And I do that by treating them as the most important people in my life.
      I listen to their problems and help them with their struggles and most importantly forgive them when they screw up. All I ever wanted my classroom to be was a safe place where their feelings matter. Where their triumphs and tribulations are just as important as anything or anyone else.

      Ugggg. Here I go talking way to much again. Lol.
      Thank you for your comment. I feel very vulnerable putting my last lecture out in the open for the world to see.

      Thank you

      • jenisesexton says:

        Thank you for your vulnerability. Reading your words is like talking to myself in the mirror. What you are saying is the very reason why I went back into the classroom.

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