December 14, 2018

Kids in the Canyon: Goodbye, Friends

 

As this school year comes to a close, our class goodbye song, “Goodbye, Friends,” takes on a melancholy meaning for me for it will soon be time to say goodbye to this group of children as summer vacation begins and they matriculate to their next classroom.

It takes a couple of months to become a true classroom family and then we are bonded. When it is time to move on, it is hard to let those bonds go, both for me and for the students. We are used to being together all day, sharing experiences, learning and growing, and it is hard to imagine these children going off to their next classroom.

A classroom family is a lot like a real family because we spend so much time together. We share jobs and responsibilities to keep the classroom running smoothly; we have disagreements and learn to work them out together; we discuss our feelings and learn to use words to express emotions; and we have inside jokes based on our shared experiences.

The children this year have learned to help each other tie shoes, read new words, learn to share, operate new computer games and operate the computers themselves. They have learned to mix colors, to count by 2s, 5s and 10s and to read math word problems.

They have learned to dress the dolls and to prepare a “meal” for each other in the playhouse. Some of our happiest times are when we have time to play on our playground, or the backyard, as I like to call it, by ourselves.

The children are like a big group of siblings, sometimes bickering, but always protective of each other, tender and caring.

Nine months is a long time and when a baby is developing, the changes are nothing short of miraculous. Our students are in our classes for nine months and their development is also miraculous. They enter at one age and leave almost a year older. They grow taller, lose teeth, get heavier, outgrow clothes and gain coordination. Some come in August, unable to bounce a ball and leave in June playing basketball.

They learn to jump rope, play hopscotch and four-square, to hang upside down on the bar and to play soccer. They build fairy houses beneath the big pine tree and climb up the rock wall of the play structure as super heroes.

Parents change also during the course of the school year. They come in a little timid at first, not sure where they fit in, how they can be part of their child’s school experience but, as the year progresses, they find their niche. They host the class dinner, become room parents, plan class parties, act as class treasurer, teach gardening, learn to work with small reading groups, organize the class library, chaperone field trips, bring snacks for Speech & Language lessons, teach the Art Trek lessons, donate to “Donors Choose” projects and run for Leadership Council positions.

Parents learn the importance of reading the class blog, getting to school early for Friday morning Assembly, overseeing homework and class projects, attending parent-teacher conferences, Back-To-School Night and Open House, bringing the children to school on time and picking them up on time.

Parents learn the important part they play in their child’s school success!

I learn, too, and after 35 years of teaching, I can honestly say that there has never been a year that I didn’t learn something new. This year, I learned the importance of incorporating dance and movement into the day to provide a kinesthetic experience.

I learned how amazingly competent five-year-old children could be as they learn technology skills. I enjoyed sparking my own interest when I found fun, new instructional materials to introduce to the children and loved watching the children get excited when I ordered a box of 12 gold and 12 silver crayons. The little things that make each day fun and different and the small bits of knowledge imparted during teachable moments make every day new.

By the time June rolls around, it is hard to imagine not sharing my day with these children. Teaching is an unusual job because there is such a strong connection to the children and their families. It is a job that has responsibility, accountability and energy and requires constant learning but the rewards happen daily.

As the children grow, we do too, and in the end we proudly send them off to continue their learning and we await the next group who will enter wide-eyed in August.

Goodbye friends,

Goodbye friends,

Goodbye friends,

It’s time to say goodbye.


For questions or comments, please send e-mail at amweisberg@completeteach.com, with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. I would love both feedback and questions!­­­­­­­­