3:40 pm - Bell rings and some of my Physics students flee for the weekend, while others continue on their quest to build a trebuchet. A few other Physics students join with the crew in the hallway, now busy at work painting windows and hanging garland.
4:00 pm - Meet with a parent and help a student with her lab report. Watch the stress melt away when she realizes I am less concerned with her mark and more concerned with her understanding how to communicate what she knows. Feel happy to know that I could help alleviate anxiety and enhance her learning.
4:40 pm - Wander the hallway to check on the situation. Provide some feedback (and tape) to various small groups in their various school concerns. Paint is done in the math wing, countdown calendar is hung up, and tulle is draped across the walls. The reindeer and stables are hung up in the science wing and the leaderships displays are coming together.
5:30 pm - Student Council is called up to my room for pizza dinner. 40 kids flood into my classroom and grab food and a seat. Though they are free to leave, they all insist on cramming into my room and sitting together. Kids are grouped in fives, sixes and sevens - each group having students from at least three grades in them. They are laughing and singing as they munch on their dinner. When they are done, they thoroughly clean up and take out the garbage and recycling. One student grabs paper towel and washes down my tables. No one is asked - they just do it. By 6:00 my room is clean and empty.
6:30 pm - Wander down to the hub and find a colleage of mine helping my Physics 12 students with their trebuchet project - which is improving, but still not working well. I'm happy to let them continue with their problem solving. They are SO determined! It warms my heart to see them working together, persevering, and working through the scientific process. They are so immersed in their learning and building, and I don't want to take away from it by giving them advice yet. They will ask if they need it. And right now they are good. What outstanding kids! I wander back and find a group straining the garland and hanging the wreath by the front door. All the snowflakes are up and the positive message sticky notes are well under way.
7:15 pm - Sitting at my desk, I consider marking or photocopying for the week ahead. After staring at my screen for 15 minutes I feel a little lonely. I am now the last teacher in the building, and the 13 hour day is starting to wear at me. I text a my good friend and college Robert Dewinetz (@rwd01), who quickly reminds me that THESE moments are the ones that kids will remember. He's right. I decide to leave my desk as is and put off the photocopying to next week. I start to wander the hall and decide to talk to the kids instead.
7:30 pm - I spend the next two hours wandering the building talking with my student council students. I learn about their goals and passions. Their favourite classes and teachers. Their ambitions. I hear all about the new friends they are making and how grateful they are to be part of student council. I hear a lot of laughter. I see faces light up as I approach each group. I teach a couple kids how to wrap the railings in ribbon, and help decorate a tree with my grade 12's. I write a few positive sticky notes on the lockers, and join a verse or two of "Deck the Halls" as I wander. With each conversation I am more and more amazed at the sheer quality of kids I am lucky enough to know. Smart, compassionate, funny, humble, open teenagers. Who love to learn. And who love each other. And who love this school. I watch them work in perfect harmony for hours. I don't know who this "deck the halls" effort is for anymore - the school - or them. I think everyone is winning tonight.
9:30 pm - I start to carrell the students into clean up mode. Meanwhile the hub is still home to my Physics 12 students working on their trebuchet. I watch them REJOICE as the 50 gram ball of play dough flies 15 feet - their best yet. I wish I could bottle the joy on their faces. It is priceless. However, they are still unhappy and want to make it work even better. I leave them to continue as I go back to supervise the cleanup effort.
10:15 pm - We are done cleaning and the school is beautiful - full of holiday cheer for all to enjoy. Try as I might, I cannot convince my Physics students to call it a night. They have now been working on their trebuchet for 14 straight hours - without giving up. They ask for 5 more minutes. Then take 10. And by 10:30 pm, it is finally loaded in my car, and the student council kids have said good night. As I escort the last few students out of the building, I stop and just take a breath. I look around at the beautiful work that student council kids have done today, and then at the hard work my Physics students put into their trebuchet and I am amazed. And feel so incredibly lucky. I have the best job ever. This day, at 10:30 pm. This moment I am going to remember. Because this is why I teach. Why I get up out of bed, and arrive early and stay late. These moments - the laughter and smiles and belted holiday carols and students willing to stick through a problem for hours on end - these moments leave me filled with joy, and peace, and love - and hope. These kids are the future. And they are a GOOD future.
10:30 pm - One perfect reflective moment. A really good moment. One I won't be forgetting for a long while.