Sometime ago, I read somewhere that publishing 125 blog posts is a big deal for a blogger. I started writing this particular blog in August 2008. Initially, it was just a way to let parents know what was happening in the classroom. But somewhere along the way, the teacher morphed into a writer and the blog morphed into a reflective journal. My first blog of this school year was my 110th and I spent the year with this milestone in mind. Sometime during the year, I told the students about this milestone. And about a month ago, they asked me if I had reached this milestone yet. “No, I’m still one away,” I told them. They wondered what my holdup was. I told them that this had to be a special post, a meaningful post. And then a light bulb went off in my head. For two years, I had assigned them topics to write about. This blog would be turnabout is fair play, they could assign me the topic. Excitedly, they set off writing down ideas for me to write about for this blog. They put them into the TOT box and I pulled out one slip of paper. While there were many great ideas, the “winning” topic was for me to write about what it was like teaching you for two years. So, since that time, I have been formulating this blog in my head. It started off just being called “Blue Joy”, then on a nice Sunday afternoon, I added “The Art of Moving On” and finally today, after a walk to Moore’s Swamp to get into the mood for blogging, I added the third section. So here goes….. the 125th post of this blog.
So, on the eve of the 180th day of 5th Grade, I am writing about an interesting topic. Blue and Joy. Two words that describe pretty accurately how I feel about being your teacher for almost 360 days. Blue and Joy. Usually, you all are a pretty astute group. But for the past two weeks, you haven’t picked up on a pretty big clue about how I am feeling about you all. I am pretty blue. I’ve been wearing blue for the past two plus weeks because that is how I am feeling about your leaving Thoreau. You have been an incredible group for the past two years. But, I have to be honest with you. Initially, you were a group that I didn’t want. Having seen a great group go off to 5th grade, I feverishly played lottery tickets to be able to retire on this group. Didn’t work and in you walked into Room 305B. You weren’t easy initially. But about six weeks into the school year, I knew that you all had a thirst for knowledge and were willing to try new things. So, CBL became DPC and you know what happened there. Yes, we were second in the nation, but the real story was how you became really Seekers of Knowledge. You became the voice for the Blanding’s turtles. You stood up in front of rooms of strangers and talked. And talked. And talked. During each of these presentations, my heart swelled with pride. It gave me so much joy to watch you talk about these turtles. Your poise was incredible for 4th graders. After we won, the Superintendent asked me “how are you going to top this?” And you know, I didn’t know. I began to think maybe it was time for me to change what I was doing. I did a lot of soul searching. And then an opportunity presented itself, to go back to fifth grade, but to go with you all. It was a no brainer. Moving was horrible, but I knew that I would have you all again and that gave me comfort. We moved into our new room, made it our own, and picked up where we left off. We were fortunate to have two new students added to the mix who mixed right in. Many class discussions led us back to doing DPC again, and while we didn’t finish like we had the year before, you again gave me so much joy as we trudged outside to collect water from the storm drain in the pouring rain, as you presented at an All School Assembly, and as you talked to the NRC about the vernal pool. Although you are probably the most accomplished class that I ever have had the privilege of teaching, the moments that gave me the most joy were the less flashy moments that happen in our classroom. They are the moments when you sit on top of the climbing structures like sloths, they are the moments when we are scheming to prank Mrs. Dillon’s class, they are the moments that you help one another with a task, they are the moments when something spontaneous happens, like dancing to Double Dream Hands. So, while not every moment of the 360 days has been joyful, you need to know how much joy you have brought into my life. So, knowing that I need to start all over again, I am feeling pretty blue. The magic of teaching is that every year (or almost every year), you get to hit the reset button and start all over again. When I have students like you all, who can do so many things, this can be overwhelming to think about starting all over once again. So, I will be grieving your leaving for a bit, while at the same time, rejoicing in watching what you have become. Blue Joy sums it up pretty well in my book.
The Art of Moving On
Kachua on the Move. Several Sundays ago, I had Kame and Kachua home with me on the weekend. Since they have been on their exercise program, I have tried to bring them home and get them outside. They both enjoy the opportunity to walk around on the grass, dig a little, and investigate their surroundings. On this particular Sunday, Kachua was particularly interesting. While looking at her cruising around the yard, it hit me, she’s ready to move onto the wild. Just like you all, you are ready to move on to 6th grade. I shot this video of her. She looked so confident of herself and it reminded me of you. I remember when I first gave you a multiplication facts test. You freaked out. Now, when you just had a facts test two weeks ago, you weren’t ruffled whatsoever. No issues. Confident, just like Kachua in my yard. You are ready to move on. You are ready to tackle more complex academics and social situations. You are ready to take what you have learned and apply it in a more deep manner. Just like Kachua, you are ready to move onto a larger “pond”, where more opportunities present themselves. You need to continue to be confident in yourself. Even when you are not quite sure, just walk like you are sure what you are doing. No negative self-talk. In the book of pictures you gave me, there was a great Thoreau quote about change. “Things do not change, we change.” Just like Kachua has changed from September to June, you too have changed tremendously. It is incredibly rewarding as a teacher to be witness to your changes. Those who doubted their abilities are soaring, those who could never even look me in the eye are talking to me on their own free will. Sure, you are all taller, but your inner changes into mature, caring students has been extremely gratifying. So, you are ready to move on. The world awaits you. Do good things. Continue to ask good questions. Continue to push yourself to get the best out of yourselves. You don’t deserve any less. Continue to re-invent yourselves. As my college coach once wrote to me when I was transferring to another college, “good-bye is not being said in this letter. I will say see you later.” And you know kids, last June, about 23 years after I last saw my coach, I did see him again. So, the art of moving on consists of the fact that I am not saying goodbye, but see you later. As I said today, you will always be my students even though you won’t be in my physical space again. You will always hold a very special place in my heart, but both you and I need to open our heart to new students, new teachers, new spaces, and new opportunities.
A Summer’s Morning in NoHo
Last summer, my husband and I went for a weekend to Northampton, known as NoHo to my son. On a hot early Sunday morning, I went out for a walk. On my way back to the hotel, I passed a shop where this artwork was in the window. I was mesmerized by it and when the store opened, I went back to see how much it cost. I thought it would be a great addition to our new classroom. However, it cost $350.00. I could not justify spending that amount of money. But I loved the message. I took numerous shots of it with my iPhone. I think it totally speaks to me on my last words to you:
Remember when you go into the world to keep your eyes and ears wide open.
And be kind.
Love one another.
Take care of each other.
Tell the truth.
Always do your best.
Listen to the big people and the little people.
Explore new paths.
Know that you are loved like crazy.
I love you all and will miss you next year. But, I know you will accomplish great things in your lives and I can’t wait to hear and read about you all!
I hope you all enjoy this 125th post 🙂