One more assignment

In high school’s everywhere (but especially in mine right now) the last week or two of the semester vibrates with a kind of frenetic energy.papers to grade

It’s almost like the beginning of the school year when everything was new and fresh and possible. Kids–especially those with their eye on the scholarship prize or a dream school–hustle to make up, rewrite, turn in, retake, and otherwise pull out all stops to nudge their class grade up a few points. The semester grade counts. For credit. For GPA. For class standing. And so we teachers keep long lists on our desks of who’s coming when to make up what. When Academic Advising period starts, we shuffle papers like the best of any Blackjack dealer.

OR

We wheedle and cajole and exhort a kid who is close (so close!) to turn in even one missed assignment–or two or three. These are the kids who have thrown their hands up. (Or put their heads down on their desks.) Not necessarily because of the school or the work or the teacher. But her mom had a heart attack. The booze or pills or whatever are back in Dad’s closet. Big brother went to jail. They lost the house. He sleeps in a garage. The baby was up all night. *Shoulder shrug* Why bother? Please–get that credit, graduate. It’s possible, I swear. One. more. assignment.

And then the Scantron machine works overtime zap, zap, zapping those  bubble sheets. The last Powerpoint slide on the last presentation transitions into the grade book. My own head aches, eyes blur from scoring over two hundred essays in the past week and a half.

And it is what it is for all of us … before it starts all over again on Monday.

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