For most of the past 20 years, I’ve viewed end-of-school year processes from the college campus. These days, teaching in a high school for the first time in almost that same number of years, I feel like I’m looking at that same process through the other end of the telescope. Instead of teaching college freshmen who were high school seniors just months ago, I’m teaching high school seniors who will be college freshmen in a few short months. For most of the past nine months, the seniors have languished in deep-seated throes of senioritis, that debilitating condition of the high school seniors’ spirit that prompts irresistible fits of laziness and disinspiration.
In these last days of their senior year, though, for as much as they’re weary and mentally depleted for their school work, they’re coming alive to the new reality of their future: college! I sense their senioritis is turning into freshmanitis as they nervously contemplate what lies around the next bend in the rivers of their lives.
This growing condition has been coming on In the last few weeks after several groups of my English IV class have gone to LSUE for orientation and early registration. A popular topic of distraction has become their college schedules. They log in to my.lsue and compare one another’s schedules, asking one another and me about this teacher or that teacher at LSUE, looking to see who among their peers has some of the same classes, giving advice to one another about what teachers to schedule, where to park, who to ask on campus about this or that, and on and on. The day before yesterday, after several had been to LSUE the day before, those conversations hijacked the lesson plan in English IV. Their conversations about going to college were earnest, their attention focused, their tone edgy and nervous. Forgetting my original plan to teach an expository writing lesson felt like the right thing to do, so I abandoned them to the interest that had become so consuming.
We had fun in a highly teachable moment—-the subject wasn’t English IV, but maybe it was something bigger: RealLife 101?