Part Two: Ok, today was the last day with students. It was their last day at our school – 5th graders going off to middle school, my last day of teaching as I retire and go off to ??? – writing books, or who knows what.
It began on the rough side – 6 students in my classroom out of uniform and defiant about it, two student thinking they can wander the building when ever they wanted and the office changing program plans ever few minutes. Personally I was not sure I was going to make it through this day. ( I had/have a raging head cold and my mother in-law just died on the weekend. Emotions were just a bit to high!)
We began morning meeting and re-established expectation. We wrote thanks and talked about why that was important, we sorted and cleaned, we resorted to a movie that connected to our reading this year and were looking to do compare and contrast with other movies and the book. The day was chaotic but working.
We reached the afternoon awards in our classroom. It was a fight to sit down and there was a real fight that ended with a student in the hall in tears (one of my larger boys). We reviewed the year and what I had expected. In a short discussion I watched the change come over them. I told them I was going in the hall to help our friend – they needed to clean up the room but chairs in the circle and sit down quietly so we can have awards and treats. When I returned that is exactly what was going on! Now the idea of a small ice cream sandwich might have helped but I don’t think that was it.
I handed out attendance awards, improved student, academic awards and pencils and pens – they clapped for each other, expressed why they agreed with my choice of awards and signed each others books. We had ice cream and cleaned up to go. A good ending but…
Here is where this group of wild and wonderful children threw me for a loop. E from the special needs class could not go home until he had shared his crackers with me, DC who missed the first two months of school because he did not what to get out of bed went into tears as he walked down the hall saying good bye. DT also dissolved into tears and that made several other boys who were giving hugs lose it as well. The girls thought it was funny until they reached the steps and thought about it and they two joined the crying group. MD left his sweatshirt in his locked so we ran back to get it and he also took hold of my arm and was crying. ” I can’t go! Can I just stay back a grade so I can stay in your class!”
I assured him he would prefer middle school next year but I would check in on him to be sure he was ok. Amazing – this defiant group in the morning were unable to leave at the end of the day!
This is what we call building community. It takes time, is hard to see if it is really there but in the end you can see it and feel it as they move on to new places. I worried all year but they will be fine. They are learning what it means to care and to learn and to be loved.
It was a good year after all!
Part one – Endings and Beginnings was written on Sunday: https://wordsfromjl.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/endings-and-beginning/