On Thursday, I'll say good-bye to 22 students I've grown to know and care deeply about this year. Each of these wonderful children holds tremendous potential and promise for the world they live in, and the people they meet.
I have learned a lot this year. My students have introduced me to places in the world I knew little about. They've challenged my teaching in new ways by confronting me with learning challenges, interests and questions that led me to research, reflection and new teaching skills and knowledge. They've written stories, essays and poems, and they've created films, slide shows, podcasts and exhibits. Day after day they've cared for each other in helpful and truthful ways as they read stories, wrote responses, studied content, practiced math and played at indoor and outdoor recess. Even in times of conflict, we've been able to use words and actions to find peaceful solutions.
The year-long teacher-students connection is a peculiar phenomenon as you spend an entire year thinking carefully about a group of children--they are part of your daily ritual and thought as you prep and plan lessons. Then when the year is over, they become a part of that student collage or child-quilt that's always with you as you move forward in life. It's difficult to say good-bye, but I do it with a smile and a message:
"You have a great year ahead with wonderful fifth grade teachers. Believe in yourself, find your passions and contribute to your world in kind and caring ways. It is the promise I see in your eyes each day that makes me hopeful about the world we live in. Also, don't forget to have fun during the wonderful months of summer!"