I knew when I started teaching I would become attached to my students. I see them longer than they see their parents Monday-Friday. It’s my personality to dote on them while still managing and teaching them.
I also knew I was going to teach at a challenging school. I didn’t understand what the most challenging aspect of my school was until this week. All this time, I thought it was behavioral issues, but it’s the heart wrenching reality some of these students face that no kid ever should.
I hate to say I had a favorite student. I love all 25 of my students. Some are really hard to love (Ha!), but I can usually find something sweet about them. It helps me when they are acting crazy to remember what is sweet about them. Ha! again!
There was (and I am using past tense and I will get to that) a girl in my class that just put a smile on my face. She was a good student always doing her work and following our expectations. She would tell me about her baby sister or her mamaw. She loved to be a classroom helper and always laughed when I would lose my phone/book/clipboard etc. By no means did I show favoritism in my instruction or grading, but she was a wonderful student with the sweetest personality.
At my school, it is not uncommon for kids to switch schools throughout the year. In the ten weeks I have had with my class, I have lost 2 students and gained 4 transfers. Our school is full of diverse students and there is a lot of poverty. Most of our students lack stability at home. We are their consistency. They can depend on that.
Thursday morning right before the bell rang I was walking to class and I saw this student. She was all smiles and thought it was so funny we were walking together to class. A few minutes later she told me it was going to be her last day and that her family was moving after school. I seriously almost lost it.
I never realized a six year old could deeply affect me so much. I tried to make the day special for her and still keep it normal. We had a field trip so I made sure she was partners with her best friend on the bus. I let her be our helper of the day. When we got back I called home to see if she was correct because I wanted her to take her supplies home if it was her last day and I wanted confirmation so our class could say goodbye.
I cried in front of my class when I told them she was leaving. I took a class picture of the class and one of her and I and we made her a big card all the kiddos signed. At one point she just randomly came up and hugged me in the middle of class and I just let her. During our last lesson of the day she moved to a closer desk to work near me and I just let her.
The most devastating part of all of this to me is that this is the best scenario for her. She lived in a very rough neighborhood. She told me they were moving in with her grandma because they didn’t have heat. And that her and her baby sister were already getting sick because of it. How I held back tears I don’t know.
Her family is moving in with family somewhere safer in a better community than where she was… I pray her next teacher welcomes her with open arms. I pray that I made her feel loved, confident, and important and that she always remembers that.
Friday was tough because she wasn’t there and you could tell our classroom dynamics were off. When a kid is absent they miss instruction, but the kids are different. Her best friend was sad and when I was cleaning out her desk I found a picture she had colored with her and her best friend’s name on it. I gave it to her best friend and that cheered her up.
I’m a new teacher and this is probably why this has affected me so much. My skin will get thicker and this will happen again. But I will not change how I feel towards my students and how I treat them. I am so happy to be apart of their little lives. This week I have learned I cannot take them for granted because I don’t know how long I will be their teacher. If they only knew how much they were changing me as a person! All along I thought I was making the impact on children, but they are making a bigger one on me!