Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Year Gone

Today was the last day of school for students and I must say, it's been a while since I've been this sad to see a class go.  Every class I have is my favorite, but there was just something special about this one!  My kids were amazing this year - cooperative and kind, just mischievous enough to keep me on my toes, but not disastrously bad enough to make me want to quit.  I always gravitate toward loving the boys in my class more than the girls, because I usually can't STAND fourth grade girl cat fights and would much rather deal with fourth grade boy insult fights.  They're way more fun.  But this year, I was so impressed with my girls!  I was worried at first, because they all showed up on the first day with a "Best Friend" picked out, and I've watched girls run down that road before.  But believe it or not, we really didn't have any major girl fights this year.  There they were, on the last day of school, telling me that they're ALL friends with each other.  Can you believe that?  They really seemed to get it this year - the idea of friendship.  What an awesome group!

As much as I loved my kiddos, I was equally in love with their families!  I had a handful of parents who were always willing to help out in the classroom.  I had constant communication and support from nearly ALL parents, regardless of whether or not they could volunteer time in the classroom.  It's amazing how much good work can get done in a classroom when parents, students AND teachers are all on board the same boat! 

There are a couple of families, though, that I never want to forget.  I don't want to compromise anyone's identity here, because this is just my little family blog, but I want to look back and remember the parents in my class who are facing some pretty significant health issues.  There were two of them, and they happened to be close friends with each other.  I have more respect and admiration for them than any adult I've ever met, because in spite of their hardships, they were at school ALL THE TIME.  In a good way!  Volunteering in the classroom.  Eating lunch with their kids and their kids' friends.  Everyone knows them and everyone LOVES them because they are a shining example of kindness and perseverance during what must be a terrifyingly difficult situation.  And you know what the best part is?  Their kids are AMAZING.  I want my kids to turn out as amazing as their kids.  Not once did any of them, kid or parent, mention the health issues they have or use it as an excuse.  Their kids always turned in homework, always participated in discussions and group work, always scored well on tests and assignments.  Never fought or argued or pouted or complained.  Never.  They're just simply amazing.

I also had quite a few students in particular who had very difficult lives at home.  They may not have had all of their basic needs met on the weekends and they often didn't have any homework help or support from parents.  Through no fault of their own, they were pretty much ON their own, all the time.  At the beginning of the year, I was pretty worried about two of these kids, in terms of behavior.  I knew it could go either way.  But right around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I could tell a tide was turning for them.  I could see them making choices that would help them in the future.  Choices like doing their homework on the bus.  Letting someone else take the lead in an experiment instead of starting an argument.  Putting an arm around a friend on the play ground.  Raising a hand to say, "I need help."  By January, the test scores of these students had gone through the ROOF and I have never been so proud of two kiddos in my life!  I knew things were hard for them.  And I knew they were making a conscious effort to change their lives for the better.  They have big plans and big goals and they decided this year that they weren't going to let their family's disadvantages get in their way.  They are so inspiring!

These are just a few examples of the amazing kids I was able to learn with this year.  Every single one of them was an inspiration to me in one way or another.  I watched so much growth this year, more than I remember seeing before.  They had their moments, like any fourth grader does, but when they walked away today, I was so confident that they would all go on to do great, great, things and I felt so blessed to have taught them for one short year.  Teaching isn't easy, but on days like today, it's the best job in the world!

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