Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disconnecting

My principal started the unfortunate habit of announcing how many days are left in the school year every time she has the mic or spoken to a large group since the 3rd quarter award assembly. It's okay of course, she's not really telling the kids anything that they don't really know. The students have been watching the calendar pretty closely since we got back from Spring Break. The unfortunate part of the amplified countdowns came when she got to "13 days left". I wasn't prepared to hear that number out loud.

For some time now, I had been working towards the end of the year. Not looking forward to the end of the year, but working on tasks like signing up for testing & end of year assessments, IEP renewal meetings, student slotting, student recognition preparation, textbook return signup, etc. The to-do list isn't getting any shorter, but the timeline for getting things accomplished is narrowing. The stress and pressure really feels like the holidays, without the joy.

I've felt the kids pulling away for a little while now, although nothing major. I think they're really enjoying what they're working on. We've got some nice language arts projects, no tests scheduled in math (I think we've had enough tests, thank you), and the science investigations are engaging and really quite fun. However, subtle signs of their 'checking out' have been popping up with greater frequency and volume. A little slower making transitions, a little louder in the hall, a little more chatty in class, a little less focused. I understand those feelings, but I'm not ready to let them go yet.

I'm not ready to start disconnecting myself from the kids that I have spent the last 10 months with. Last night I finished my year end hand-written letters, 72 in all, to my 6th Graders. I wanted to tell them what they have meant to me and what I have learned about them during our school year together. Some of the letters were hard to write, because with a few, I just wasn't the right 6th grade teacher for them. I never quite connected as solidly as I would preferred. I failed to motivate or inspire some. For those students, maybe especially for those kids,  my hope for their future is high. I told them that I hope they can find someone who can 'unlock' or connect with them, so that they can realize their potential, and that "I believed in them." 

The letters that were easy to write were to the kids that I have grown to know very well. It was easy to share some memories and tell them that, "you have greatness inside you, work hard to bring it out." Some of them will be memorable for quite a while and I wanted to thank them.

These darn kids reach into your heart and grab a piece of it without you really knowing it. Until they start letting go. My natural inclination, when coming to the natural end of something is to start putting some distance between myself and whatever will be ending. That's easy to do with projects, not so easy to do with people.
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3 comments:

  1. Eric,
    So true! I have the joy of working with students during their 7th and 8th grade years. It makes the saying goodbye that much harder. They grow so much--in more ways than one--over the two years. I am a sad teacher about this time of the year. They truly have grabbed a piece of my heart and I don't want to lose it (them)!

    Nice post about this bittersweet time of year. I like the analogy--the stress and pressure are like the holidays, but without the joy.

    I hope you enjoy the last few days! This is your first year with sixth graders, isn't it? It sounds like you have enjoyed it.

    Enjoy the next 13 or so days,
    Denise

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  2. This is a brilliant piece Eric. So very true. I'm really not ready to disconnect from my sweet kindergarteners yet either.

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  3. mickey roelandtsJune 1, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    How nice to give some reflection of your year and share it with your students and families! :) I have no doubt you made a wonderful impact on your students!

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