March Madness
Katelynn Carlson, 7th Grade Faculty

Spring often feels chaotic with trying to decide if we can squeeze in one last unit, planning for immersive, itching for spring break, and pouring over progress reports. Add in some changing friendship dynamics, messy group work, and truly soul-crushing weather, and you catch a little bit of March Madness.

And, still, it's one of my favorite parts of the year.

At this point, we know our students, and they know us. Classroom norms are fully adopted into the day, the regularity of the weeks creates a comforting pattern of routine, and we can see the growth of our students. It's an incredibly challenging yet rewarding time of the year.

This spring, the 7th grade has been dedicating their time to the "Hero Bracket." I've been awed by their ability to navigate a unit that stretches both their academic skills and ability to effectively collaborate with one another.

In late January, students selected a historical figure to research and present on--someone they considered a "hero." They outlined their claim, evidence, and reasoning, convincing their classmates of their arguments. The Top 16 advanced to our "Hero Bracket" and featured icons like Winston Churchill, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Tyler Perry. During our "Sweet 16," students wrote argumentative paragraphs to determine who better exemplified their definition of a hero. For the "Elite 8," students were split into cross-section groups to develop an infographic to, again, convince their classmates that their person was the best hero. Our "Final Four" really challenged students' flexibility and collaboration as they created videos to present to their next evaluators--the sixth grade class. We end our "madness" this week with a debate between Ruby Bridges and Harriet Tubman, two excellent heroes.

Students will readily tell me how difficult some of the assignments have been. There have been moments of mediation, stressful conversations, and even a handful of tears. Heroes students have felt passionately about have lost out to competitors. It's been long, and often arduous. But one student on Monday said, "I'm really going to miss the Hero Bracket."

What else better sums up the sentiment of the springtime of a school year? It's hard, sometimes impossibly so, and the long summer days sounds mighty appealing right now, but, I have to admit, I will miss it when it's over.

Until then, I choose to lean into the "madness" a little bit, continue to find ways to bring joy into the classroom, and celebrate all the ways we've grown this year.