Monday, June 3, 2013

School's Out and I Survived

May 23rd was the last day of school for students here, and teachers were finished on the 28th. At this point, I've been up north with my family for a few days and still can't believe that my first year is over. It's an incredibly weird feeling.

The last couple of weeks of school were a strange whirlwind. Fifth graders at the end of the school year are basically wild animals, and we had a LOT going on in those last few weeks- visiting the middle school, practicing locks, end of the year party, etc. I found myself in the strange position of REALLY wanting the end to come so that these crazy kids and I could have a break, yet being very sad that the little buggers would be moving on to the middle school, where I realistically probably won't see them again.

When the last day of school came, I did cry a couple of times. The first was because of a card one of my little darlings gave me. Now, this kid is my buddy. The birthday card he made me was featured in a previous post. He is by no means a writer, but he filled both sides of a card thanking me for helping him when he was confused, taking him outside to eat lunch, "bealing" (b-d reversal) with him when he got wound up, etc. The last line was "You are the best teacher I have had and will have. Thank you." You have to understand- I'm not trying to brag, or saying that I think I was truly the best teacher this kid has had- I am saying it because it totally humbled me. I worked really hard this year to keep up. I cried in the bathroom plenty of times and spent long hours writing lesson plans and progress reports. I was observed CONSTANTLY by both the school administration and people from the county. I struggled to keep up with co-teaching, small groups, preparing kids for standardized tests, data collection, Common Core, rigor, classroom management, etc etc etc. I dropped the ball plenty of times.

None of those things are what really mattered to this student. What mattered to him was that I helped him when he was lost, listened when he needed to talk, and read to him when he was bouncing off the walls. I reassured him that it's impossible to be literally scared to death and put band-aids on a lot of cuts. I loved this kid (and his 30 lovely classmates, too). That is what made the difference in his life this year. I know that I need all of those other things- the standards, the management, the lesson, the data- to be an effective teacher, and I am working on them. I was humbled to remember, though, that I entered this field not just to educate, but also to nurture and encourage. And that is one thing that I don't need any extra training or practice to do well.