Monday, December 12, 2011

Farewell party

I've never been good at ending classes.  I work so hard to form a community in the classroom, to have students work together on meaningful projects, to create an atmosphere that fosters change far beyond the classroom walls for the participants.  And then the calendar just scatters everyone.

Every semester I search for some suitable conclusion.  The typical final exam, with students writing in blue books silently then leaving one by one, clearly doesn't cut it.  We have potluck meals, I invite students to say a few words.  But it's not ceremonial enough.  I still just feel like we have drifted apart.  The momentousness of our time together fades away without a proper acknowledgement out loud.  I know some students understand it, and a few tell me privately, but it's not just their individual experience I want to honor.  It's our collective effort.

Do you have any examples of classes you've experienced or taught, or even of retreats or seminars, that ended well -- with a sense of closure and reflection, sending you away with a feeling of what you were a part of?  I'd love to hear about them.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Makes me miss the days of Honors finals! When my graduate courses in physics are over this week, the relief will be palpable - far from the emotions I felt at the end of an honors class.

The experience that best captures those feelings is - to me - the end of a Governor's School summer. Cheesy slideshow? Yes - but goodness is it ever effective. I'm not sure how to capture that in a classroom, but breaking bread with one another can't hurt. I've always thought a Friar's Club-style roast would be a fun way to end an Honors class - but that's a tight rope to walk.

I would mention that when you have former PA's and their spouses going out of their way to attend your finals -- you're most certainly on to something! Lauren still points out how much fun it was to sit in on the webzine presentations.