Celebrating something different


This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate!

“God bless you.”

“I could never do that!”

“What are they? 11? 12? Thank you.”

Just a snapshot of some things I usually hear when I tell someone I teach 6th grade. Truth is, I love 6th graders – They are the best, they are awesome!  (Full Disclosure: I also said similar things about my 2nd graders way back when.)

So last week, when I sat my classes down to tell them that I was leaving to fill in as an Instructional Coach for the rest of the year, I was curious about what their reactions would be. Sad? Angry? Elated?

Shock. They were just so shocked. Calm, and cool, like 6th graders can sometimes be. (It’s true. They can be. They are.) They looked at me with what can only be described as astonished betrayal.

“I’ll still see you.” I told them. “I’ll be helping your new teacher. I’ll be helping you. We will still be connected.”

“How about you help our new teacher by teaching us once a week?” They challenged.

I tried to articulate to them that their new teacher would be with them longer than I have. That when they look back on their 6th grade year, the new teacher is whom they will really think of. This was hard to say aloud, because I love being these kids’ teacher. But, I said it. Several students looked at me thoughtfully, some I’m sure wanted me to stop being so dramatic so they could go back to their own thoughts, and a couple just shook their heads, “Not going to happen. You are our teacher.” 

Hands up for questions and comments.  This is where we come to the celebration.

“I’m just worried about one thing. Are we going to have as much read-to-self time with the new teacher?” 

“Wait. Are you going to take all of the books?”

“I’m not angry, I’m happy for you. I’m just going to miss you.”

“I wish you didn’t have to leave.” 

“I hope you remember me. I will remember you.” 

Later that day I sent an email to my students’ families, and it took a strong will not to call off the change! What kind words I got in return. Congratulations for sure, but lovely appreciation messages and “we will miss you” notes that made me feel so good, and also so guilty.

Listen. As a teacher I almost never know what if any impact I am having. I certainly don’t measure it by test scores. If I measure it at all, I measure my impact by fleeting moments; teachable and emotional. I measure it by glances that I can’t seem to articulate in writing — in inside jokes that hint at lightbulbs going off. I measure it in cooperation and laughter, relationships and community. The past week of transition, shadowing the current coach, teaching my amazing students, and getting ready to leave the classroom in January has been full of reflection and celebration.

Leaving the classroom is hard. I pre-miss it already. And, I’m so excited to try out this new role – I am going to learn so much – and I can’t wait to start to figure it all out… and celebrate along the way with all of the teachers and students I am lucky enough to be working with.

7 thoughts on “Celebrating something different

  1. Wow. Your new year is going to be truly new. Transitions may be hard but this one seems to be one filled with appreciation and anticipation. I am happy for you!

  2. Blessings as you travel this new road in the new year. Does the new teacher know how fortunate she is to inherit your class? They sound like a wonderful bunch. It’s lovely that you’ll still be around to see them occasionally.

  3. Oh, what a mixed bag of emotions this change has brought to you. Life changes and change can be exciting but colored by fear and sadness of the end of the safeness of the known. Congratulations on striking out on a new project.

  4. Congratulations! You hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to leave, you’ll miss it and you’re going to learn so much! Looking forward to learning with you!

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