Every year, I have the same conversation with my husband. I ramble on and on about how attached I am to my current group of kiddos, and he reminds me that I will love my next group of Kindergartners just as much. He has been right for the past four years… nevertheless, at the end of each year I feel the same sting in my heart. If you are a teacher, you probably feel it too.
My students became my kids, and I hate to see them go.
When we meet the students at Meet the Teacher, we don’t know their souls or personalities. We don’t know what makes them laugh, cry, or squeal. As excited as we are to get to know them, they are just our students. When the first day of school hits, some are scared. Many don’t trust us. Most would rather be at home with his or her parents. Heck, we would rather be home with our families too because the beginning of school is TOUGH. Part of us wishes that we had our old classes back because we knew them–they were our family for a whole year.
Regardless of our feelings… on day one, we begin the process of building one-big-happy-class-family. We intentionally find ways to make each kid feel special, safe, accepted, and loved. Building a relationship with each child is our top priority.
It happens at different times for each student– but, it always happens. We begin to view the students as “my kids.” You know, the ones that we would do anything for. There is no sacrifice that is too big– no length to which we would not go for “ourkids.”
And their hearts begin to shift too. We are no longer strangers that teach them school rules. In their minds, we have become their teachers, leaders, school-mommies and daddies, nurses, counselors, and friends. They begin to trust us. They begin to understand that there is nothing that they can do to make us love them less. They want to make us proud.
And proud they make us indeed.
As teachers, we give every kid our whole heart–pouring out, pouring out, pouring out. Everything we’ve got. My knees are literally calloused from spending so much time kneeling down to listen, comfort, assist, and tie their shoes.
We have exerted so much mental effort trying to figure out how to work miracles and get these kiddos to meet end of year standards.
We have worried about their lonely hearts and taught them how to find the courage to be a true friend.
We have seen them at their lowest. Consequently, we have done everything in our power to show them that they have potential, worth, and can be/do anything they dream.
We have rooted for them, even when they did not believe in themselves. Because we believed in them, they began to believe in themselves too.
We have run ourselves into the ground for the little souls that are so worth all of our time and energy.
We have spent hours of our free time making and planning lessons that will inspire and engage them– because we know just what they need in order to learn.
The Pay Off
We watched them overcome their insecurities.
We watched them smash end of year assessments.
We watched them overcome behavioral difficulties.
We watched them build self-confidence.
We watched them form lasting friendships.
We watched them enjoy learning and school.
We watched them grow in character.
But now, it is the end of school. With only a handful of school days left, our hearts just never know quite how to deal. Promoting our kids to the next grade doesn’t feel like a loss, but it is bittersweet.
After a school year, our kids are a part of our hearts. They are a part of our souls. They are our family. We have poured out every ounce of emotionally energy, physical energy, and love that we could possibly muster. All because they became “our kids.”
And we are all so proud to call them ours.