Saturday, September 29, 2012

The First Goodbye of the School Year

So yesterday, the first of my babies bid us farewell.  It was rough, and led to some touching moments.  I was heartbroken, because I had been thinking we had until November with him, and just found out this week that that was not the case.  We just finished up essays about personal heroes, and, despite only knowing me a month, he wrote about me.  It was extremely touching.

This will be brief (but also repeated, as there is a good chance that another of my darlings will be leaving NEXT Friday, which is just about more than I can bear to handle.)

I just wanted to share a few moments I witnessed - one in particular, which really touched me.  Now, here's the thing: you should be aware that most of these fifth graders have been going to school together since Pre-K.  I'm pretty sure the same is true for him. You should also know that I'm a total crier - so I tried to tough it out as long as I could, but lost it when they started eating their ice cream treats in our special eat-in-the-classroom I sponsored for him.

Anyway, one boy had confided in me that his goal was to get another friend to cry over this student's departure.  Lo and behold, at one point I looked over to see him red-faced, with some boys around him comforting him.  The student leaving kept a brave face and had yet to break down.  As the understanding he would be gone started to sink in, the boys around also started crying.  And yet this student, the one saying goodbye to all of his friends, was still straight-faced.  I will never understand this strength, but I respect it so much.  (Because obviously, I was a mess at this point.)

But the one thing that REALLY got to me was... one of my dear math students came in during dismissal for some reason unknown. (To avoid the confusion of two "he"s, let's call him Math.)  I don't think he was coming to say goodbye, because Math was deeply concerned about my tears and asked what was wrong.  I waved him off, trying to focus on something else and left him to his errand.  The next thing I knew, I saw Math and my student sitting at our reading table.  They said nothing, just simply sitting down next to each other, both staring straight ahead in complete silence.  Math's eyes were red, my student's eyes were watery.

Fresh wave of tears here, people!  There is just something about the image of these two boys sitting side-by-side, thinking god only knows what, in mutual understand of each other's sorrow.  And nothing was said the entire time they sat there.  Somehow it's like fate knew to leave them alone.  Usually my student's bus is one of the first ones to arrive. Yesterday, he was the last to leave my room.  Math's bus came unusually late as well.  When they called his bus, his face crumpled a little as he heaved a heavy sigh and got up.  For the first time since I'd observed them, the boys finally spoke.  My student and Math did one of those little bro handshake-hug things.  Goodbyes were exchanged, and Math left.

I just....

Phew, boy.  It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.  The good news for these two and the rest of my boys is that this student didn't move far - just far enough to be out of our school bounds - and they will be reunited next year in middle school.

The same will not be true when my girl leaves, whenever that is.  It all depends on her mother's schedule at work.  She will be well and truly separated from her friends

I'm definitely not excited to return to school on Monday and see his empty desk in the corner. Our mood will certainly be a little more somber.  Hopefully at least I won't return to news that the girl will get a reprieve at least for a few months.

It's always so tough for students to leave the school they grew up in when they're SO close to being done. My heart grieves for them.

Somber post, I'm sorry.  Next time, I'll hopefully post about math rotations...I did Guided Math for the first time!  But I just can't bring myself to update on that now.


  1. Do most of your students stay all year long? I've taught in districts with little movement and I think that it's a big disruption.

    Now, I teach in an area where most parents don't own a home and are either renting, living in motels or are staying with friends/relatives, so my students are on the move. Last year I looped with my 2nd graders to 3rd grade and we lost 20 of our 65 kiddos in the loop. Then, almost 10 of those moved throughout the year. It's not abnormal in my school to have kids move in Oct. and return after Spring Break (6 months after their new lease is over). I also usually have about 5 or so Foster Students, so when they come in, I never know how long I will have them.

    1. All of my students have such a variety of situations. Almost all the ones you've described - but to my knowledge, none have been in a motel or hotel. In this case, they were renting and the owner returned sooner than previously agreed on. Most do typically stay - last year I lost 3, one of which returned a few months later, and one of which didn't leave until the end of May (which was the most tragic by far).

      There is definitely a history in this school of several disappearing during summer and a few trickle out during the school year. It's never significant, though. We're a small school, very family-oriented and tight-knit. So most families try to stay if possible; move or not. I've been told that if all our students put their REAL address, we would have a serious series of lay-offs.