Meditations on a Cogen (No. 27) • Thursday, June 8, 2022

During the 2021-22 school year I’m having weekly co-generative dialogues (or cogens) with my students. In an effort to help me process these talks and document progress, I summarize and write reflections after each cogen. This is the 27th post in the series.

After my last cogen on May 19, it didn’t feel right to onboard another cohort. There were just four weeks remaining in school. At the same time, it seemed unnatural to finish there. Thus, right after May 19, I began planning an end-of-year cogen reunion. I wanted to bring back all the cogen students from the entire year for one last cogen. Over the course of the year, our half-hour cogens resulted in over 13 hours of talking and generating ideas to improve the class. If for no one else but myself, the reunion was a way to bring closure to this unforgettable experience.

Of course, the last cogen of the year had to be celebratory. These students stepped up for me in major ways. While most of my colleagues have cursed this year up and down, I found myself in a great mental space all year. Undoubtedly, my cogen had a lot to do with this and I’m grateful to them. To show my cogen students the love, I made party bags, ordered pizza, and set up a raffle for our last gathering. Two weeks before, I gave out invitations.

Pizza, trivia, and a raffle
As the students arrive, they walk into the room and find a large table with seating for 23 (the number of cogen students this year). They also see the party bags, pizza, and drinks. Music fills the room with rhythm and melody. I welcome each student individually and hand them a raffle ticket.

After everyone gets settled around the table, I utter some opening remarks, but mainly just thank them for coming. I spent a lot of time this year scared to death that my students would forget to come (or come back) to our cogen each week. With 21 smiling faces in front of me today, I’m relieved that I’m only missing 2, and 1 of them is a senior who isn’t in school because of prom. I don’t talk long because I see their eyes eagerly shift from me to the unopened pizza boxes in the center of the room. We eat.

In addition to eating pizza and enjoying party bags filled with candy, I want our time to be reflective. It should afford us a chance to think back on the year through our cogens and remember how far we’ve come — in a fun way. I’m the king of boring and almost make today’s reunion dull and uninspiring, but at the last minute I come up with an idea to do trivia and a raffle.

Everyone earned one raffle ticket simply by showing up. I decide that additional tickets can be earned by answering trivia questions based on the cogen. In re-reading my cogen summaries, here are some of the questions I tapped out one day during lunch:

  • What is “cogen” short for?
  • Who can name all members of their cogen?
  • Who were the only cogen students to continue to attend after their six-week tenure was complete?
  • Which group of cogen students was the only one to meet on Zoom?
  • Who first mentioned the idea for bingo?
  • Who attended basketball practice and the cogen on the same day?
  • Who first mentioned the idea for DeltaMath review for exams?
  • Who created the game board for Infinite Levels?
  • Who designed the opening slide for the lesson on fractional exponents?
  • What fruit did I leave in the snack box over-ripened during a school break to make everything in the box smell like it?

I’m generous with the raffle tickets and dish them out to anyone who comes close to a correct answer. It’s lighthearted and fun. Good memories and laughter abound.

For the raffle prizes, I picked up several inexpensive party favors from Five Below. I also raffle off two cans of Pringles and a bag of Takis. We even raffle off the last three slices of pizza. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much to make a raffle exciting; the rush that comes with winning something is usually enough. This proves true with my cogen students. Ticket after ticket, we have a blast.

It’s a wrap
We call it a day and depart from the table one final time. The students leave enthused and fulfilled. So do I.

A shot of me and all of my cogens students around the table one last time


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