Something cool happened yesterday.
At least, I thought it was cool.
On Wednesday, one of my most delightful but most challenging students, Drama King, stopped in after school with a friend of his, Short Stuff. Both of these kids are fabulous, but Drama King has been somewhat....difficult this year; he's feeling pretty burnt out on school and he's not getting a lot of work done. He's supposed to stay after school to catch up on his work and it happens now and again, but not with any regularity. Wednesday was a day he was supposed to stay, but he came by to tell me he couldn't because his mom needed him to go somewhere. After he told me and I told him how disappointing that was, he stared off into space for a moment. "I just wish I could come in on Saturday."
"Yeah, right," I said. "You don't ever do any work over the weekend."
"That's because I put it off and put it off! But if I could come in and do it here, I'd totally get it done."
I looked at him. "Really? You'd actually come in?"
"Yeah, I would. It would be different because I wouldn't be tired from a whole day of school. But no one's here and I can't do it."
Was this true? Did he mean it, or was he just trying to get me to stop being mad? "Um...I have a key. If you really want to do this...we could do it."
"I really want to do it."
Short Stuff chimed in. "Can I come too? I want to get my work done too."
Wow. "You guys seriously want to do this?"
Yes, they said, they did.
"Then I'll talk to administration and see if it's okay. I'll even bring donuts."
I got permission the next day. And I figured since I was coming in anyway, I might as well let anyone who wanted to join in. So I opened it up to all my kids - explained that I knew a lot of them were behind on projects we're working on, that it can be easier to get work done at school than at home, that I had grading to do so I would do it at school and then they could get help on stuff if they needed it. I even told the other 8th grade Language Arts teachers so that their kids could come if they wanted.
A whole bunch of kids said they were coming; I hoped it was true. But then Saturday came, and I started to second-guess. It was a beautiful day - who'd want to waste it at school? And they'd said they'd be there, but they say a lot of things. I bought two dozen donuts and two gallons of milk (also requested), but as I drove, I wondered where I could donate everything when no one showed.
When I got to school, 9 kids were already waiting outside.
Over the four hours I was there, 17 students showed - 15 of mine and two friends. They worked for anywhere from one to three and a half hours, and while they probably didn't work as solidly as they could have, they generally got a LOT done, and those who didn't get a lot done at least got more done than they otherwise would have.
Seventeen 8th graders at school. On a Saturday. By choice. Sure, the donuts helped, but still.
I am so damn proud of them. It was a great idea of Drama King's, one I never would have thought to suggest - but I sure will in the future.
(Image credit to Chris.Corwin - okay, it wasn't quite THAT crowded, but still.)