Proud parents and nervous students have waited almost 10 years for this. Grade 8 graduation ceremonies are once again upon us, and each year I marvel at the scope and promise of each graduating class. I ask myself the same question in reflection each time – so how did they get here?
Every year, students walk into new classrooms with new teachers. They sit quietly and listen to the expectations, rules and promise of another year in the classroom. While they listen, they are scoping the room for their best friends, secret crushes and maybe even, mortal enemies. All in all, they have learned how to socialize, collaborate and be a part of a class community – all important life skills.
Every year, teachers carefully plan for another year of learning and perhaps even, trying something new in the repertoire (that they have not attempted before). Maybe it’s infusing more technology into their teaching or including more problem-based learning. Perhaps this year their focus is on 3-part math lessons or activities grounded by “big ideas.” Whatever the case, classrooms are places of learning for student and teacher alike.
Every year, parents remember the struggles their children may have endured. Perhaps it’s the constant battle of finishing homework or the everyday issue of organizing their belongings. It could be the social stresses of falling-outs with friends or break-ups with love interests. In any case, schools are places where growing up occurs and where we have grown stronger with resilience and coping strategies.
Every year, communities witness another group of future citizens leave their elementary buildings and begin to volunteer, work or become more involved community members in the surrounding world. Our students hold down part-time jobs in our fast-food restaurants and referee minor sports games. They earn volunteer hours towards their high school graduation requirements as lifeguards, camp counselors and tutors. They become vital cogs in the everyday workings of our great communities.
So this year, as you peer over the heads of parents seated all around you to catch a glimpse of this year’s graduating class – pause for a moment. You are witnessing a pivotal moment in our history. The passage into early-adulthood and all the promise and potential lay ahead in life’s great journeys – and our schools serve as the pathways from one major transition to the next.
What do you love about graduation ceremonies? What are some of the most inspiring words you’ve ever heard in a graduation speech?
During Neilʼs 10 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.