In May when I received my classes for the 2014-2015 school year, my heart sunk a little because I was assigned a Grade 10 ELA class and I had been spoiled with Grade 12’s and 11’s for the past few years.
It had been a couple of years since I had Grade 10s, and as I recalled, they were challenging. My 17 years of teaching had taught me that Grade 10s were often irreverent, lazy, and more concerned with their social game-playing than learning.
Yet, being the emotional creature that I am, I have always connected well with these woebegone, ruckus-rising creatures that emerge in the classes of Grade 10. So, I pulled up my big girl pants and prepared for the roller-coaster of Grade 10s.
Alas, these 10’s have become the most beautiful class as a collective that I’ve ever taught in all my 17 years. I always fall in love with my students and my classes, but this group was the heart of teaching for me. It was like playing with puppies, everyday: I’d hold the stick of learning and their eager tails would wag and they’d bark in delight with every task and skill we’d learn. Yes, they were easily excitable, but always respectful to me, to the learning, to the environment, to each other, and to themselves. They were a beautiful class that brought out the excellence in learning for all of us. They created the world of Ubuntu that I’ve so sought to build in my classes.
On days when they were away on field trip and my day would gain a prep, I would miss their energy. Each student – just like all students I have the privilege to love and teach – is extremely special, but what made them unforgettable and life transformative for me was who they were as we came together. We became a family. It doesn’t seem right that our semester came to a close and that our family doesn’t get to come together daily.
I miss them dearly. But I treasure the love they continue to sprinkle through our halls and I feel honoured for their continued visits and hugs. They embody my motto of LAUGH, LOVE, LEARN and I will hold the hope that fate will bring us all together again in the next two years of their journey.
Recreating this world – this Ubuntu – is a practice that I hope to explore, start anew, and resurrect with my Grade 12 students this coming semester. Having 3 groups of ELA 30-1 Diploma courses is a challenge, but I feel the ties of Ubuntu beginning to knit us together. May our journey this semester be as magical as the journey I had with the 10s.
The following quotes I gathered from their final blog posts about being a reader, writer, and learner: http://hunniblog10.edublogs.org/
“…my journey as a learner, reader, and writer this year has particularly allowed me to understand the importance of consistency and hard work. … Through this growth, I have also realized my passion for learning, reading, and writing through which I am able to grow in knowledge and wisdom about myself and the world around me.” Carolin – Grade 10
“Ms. Hunnisett has helped me find my voice when it comes to writing, and taught me the importance of reading, … She’s taught me that even the simplest pieces have deeper meaning and many stories of their own to tell. Words can’t describe how much she has changed my way of thinking, because of her my perception of life has become so much more positive…” – Roshni – Grade 10
“The first day of L.A, I had no idea who was in my class and I was forced to choose a spot to sit. Thankfully, as the week progressed, three amazing individuals that I had the privilege to be friends with, showed up and we were all able to create a dynamic group of fun. Sitting in my group of four for the very last time was definitely a difficult thing to do but when I observed the faces of the three people around me, I realized that without them I definitely would not have progressed as an individual and I would still be a very reserved student. As we slowly began to grow in that classroom, it became terrifying, but knowing that you would always have a shoulder to lean on if it got too overwhelming, really softened the blow of growing up. Hand in hand, we got to face these challenges together and I am very thankful for that.” Sidra – Grade 10
“Being part of our amazing class has really pushed me to strive to achieve for more and help those around me. … Looking back over this semester, I wish that it had lasted longer, so that we could all stay together, but unfortunately it has come to an end. … we have all learnt something and improved both our reading and learning habits in one way or another. I will always remember the fun ‘adventures’ we had in our class.” – Madhav – Grade 10
“Within these blogs a community of writers was created, a community who supported and built off of one another’s passion. Within the hour and a half classes we made a community of learning and knowledge, but as well created memories. Within the teachings of Ms. Hunnisett, we created a class into a family. I believe that each and every individual was a piece of our classes identity, if we took away anyone we wouldn’t be the class we are today.” – Alisha – Grade 10
“…keeping a journal that we wrote in the beginning of the class was something that largely assisted in my growth, sparking certain ideas or concepts that I did use afterward in the semester. Writing blogs was another thing that at first seemed unnecessary, however I slowly came to realize how they were indeed inspiring me and helping me to improve my writing.” Ishmeet – Grade 10
“I sincerely hope to grow as a learner, reader and writer through the years that follow, but above all I yearn the desire of having Mrs. Hunnisett as a teacher again. I have profoundly learned this year from writing essays to performing plays; boosting my inner esteem and allowing me to paint that picture that lay beyond the window. Obviously, that painting will become more vibrant in the years to come, but for that I must read more and write more to escape my inner emotions so I can paint that picture in a poetic manner.” – Mah Noor – Grade 10
“As a reader, this year I feel that I have definitely improved a lot. As of this year, I have read approximately six to seven books in the few months of this course. Therefore, I read approximately one book a month. I feel that this is evidently better than what I have read last year, when I barely spared enough time for myself to read. This year, I was also able to learn that it is very important for a person to continue reading so that they can always have a chance to improve their writing. The more a person reads, the better their writing gets.” – Suchismita – Grade 10
“I’ve always been a fairly opinionated person, wanting to have people listen to what I have to say and actually understand and pay attention, something that can be hard as a teenager. When writing, now I can see that it’s a good way to do just that. The blogging has influenced that significantly as well … It allowed me to try something new and it acted as a good outlet for me to write how I desired to with a clear purpose of simply expressing my feelings on certain subjects. … I feel as though I’ve matured as a writer and even though I still don’t necessarily like doing it because of the hassle, I most certainly have grown to appreciate the art of writing.” – Paula – Grade 10
“One of the most important things that I’ve achieved from this class is wanting to read. I hated reading. but last year when I read Of Mice and MenI thought of reading more, but throughout the year I never actually got to find another book that I enjoyed. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite novels and that was my ” Aha” for wanting to read more which is a goal for 2015 for me.” Gavin – Grade 10
“By the end of this semester not only did I gain confidence in my writing skills but I gained reassurance knowing that my voice was finally being heard, recognized, appreciated and related to. …coming to grade ten where reading was expected was a shock, but one that I welcomed as a challenge. …As a learner so far this year I have gained more self-confidence that success is possible for me and that I can contribute to the learning community because my opinion is valued and realistic.” Cayleigh – Grade 10
“I love writing personal, and I love reading personal pieces. You see a whole new side of that person that you didn’t see before, and maybe you can even connect with them because of that experience. Writing personal pieces can be hard because you’re showing vulnerability to an extent, and I guess that’s why I admire personal writing so much because you see that rawness in another person and I appreciate when someone shows vulnerability or rawness. … I knew this classroom would be a place of happiness, love and care. I grew closer to people who I thought I wouldn’t even have a relationship with, and I’ve created many new friendships because of this class. ” Daania – Grade 10
“I have never felt so proud of myself while doing a specific course. I have learned so much in this short time about poems , short stories, and so much more. I have learned about how people can transform a catastrophe into something so beautiful in words.” Asna – Grade 10