Who Can Be King of the Toad Hill?

June 21, 2010.   Day 180.  The last day of school started as many of my mornings on the other 179 days do.  Arrive between 6:40 a.m. to 6:45 a.m., talk to my Buddy for a little bit, and then head upstairs to Room 305B.  But on this day, it was different, because it was the last day of this school year.  The last day is always really unsettled for me–everyone in the room knows that there is soon to be a change.  On this morning, it seemed like our Eastern Spadefoot Toads felt it as well.  When I went over to their tank, it seemed like I saw some behaviors that I hadn’t witnessed before.  There was some “pushing” going on, and it looked like they were jockeying on who would be the King of the Toad Hill.  I stopped and thought about what my husband said about them, “soon they won’t have their tank cover opened and crickets and fruit flies dropped in.”  They will be heading back to Sandy Neck Beach at the beginning of next week and I started to wonder how they would fare in the real world.   Would they be able to find food on their own?  Would they survive the rough and  tumble world?  I felt far more confident about my fourth graders becoming fifth graders with their upcoming transition.

The students finally arrived and we set off to work on our robots for the Second Annual Great Thoreau Robot Race, saving digital farm projects to a server folder, and flattening our ball chairs.  After our race (congrats to EC 18 and EC17 for winning!), we did one last fractions lesson.  During snack, I showed the student “The River and Me” (I need to upload this still).  They asked to see the movie I had made them last week, so we watched it again.  Several of the other adults in the room had a running bet when I would fall apart.  So far, so good for me.  I then showed the movie we had made “Project K”.  This touching movie was made for a child in the class who is moving in several weeks.  Seeing what her classmates said about her touched her to no end.  The goodbyes were heartfelt and wonderful. Watching her wipe her eyes, I brought her over a copy of the movie, and several other presents to remember us.  Still no tears for me, I had to be the adult and be there for my students.  Since four of our original Kiva loans had been paid back, we reinvested in four more micro-loans.

Our Sands Combined to Make a Beautiful Beach!Next it was time to create our class “beach”.  At the beginning of the year, each child received a sample of sand from me.  It was now time to take each child’s sample and create a beautiful sand jar.  Each sand represented the individuality of the student, but together it represented the class.  I told the class how quickly they had become a “beach” in my mind.   I talked to them about how many wonderful things they had accomplished this year.  Yesterday, I spent time in the aisles of Roche Brothers searching for the perfect jar that would represent this year.  After seeing the jar filling up, it was just the perfect jar for this group of students.  Our finishing activity was to read “The Seeker of Knowledge”, a book that I had read to them on the first day of school.  The underlying message was to always believe in themselves,  to not give up, and to always have the spirit of discovery and imagination.  With that, we played our math game for one last time and headed down to the buses.  A friend calls this “Wave Day” as after the students get on the buses, all the staff lines the sidewalks and waves the students off.  After hugging each child, I joined my colleagues in waving the students off.  Still no tears, but I was certainly feeling melancholy as I headed back to my student-less classroom.

Empty Chairs and Empty Tables

Declining an invitation to go out to lunch, I decided to work on paperwork as I was not mentally prepared to pack up this year yet.  I quietly set to work on progress reports, getting them done in record time.    The room felt empty, lifeless as I kept on plugging away on the paperwork needed to be done at this time of year.  Finally at the end of the day, I decided to do a little cleaning and putting away of materials.  Feeling like a limp dish towel, I decided to leave around 4:45 and tackle the rest of the room another day.  Turning off the lights, I locked the door, and closed the door on another school year.

And for the record, I made it until 5:00 p.m. before crying.