It's exactly how I felt as I reached this last and final day of school with my kids. I haven't hidden the fact that this year has been hard. Yet it is difficult for me to pinpoint what exactly was so very hard. People have asked if it was admin or my class? The kids? The coworkers? The truth is, I don't know. Maybe it was a combination. Maybe it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I will tell you it was not the coworkers. My 2nd grade team is awesome. There are 12 of us, plus our support - 2 coaches (who are superb); reading intervention support; and ESOL support <-- I've been blessed for almost every year I've been there to get to work with the same support people in my room. Thank goodness for amazing coworkers.
However, as I've said, I had 26 students. 21 of those 26 students were second language learners; 16 of those 26 students were boys. I had 1 resource student; 1 student we believe to be on the Autism Spectrum; 2 students who had previously been retained in other grades; 1 student who I retained in 2nd grade; 1 student who came to me in November from Mexico, speaking no English (and my gosh did he amaze me with how far he has come); <-- wow, even just typing that, every one of those students is a boy. My poor girls, they got the short end of the stick. Some of them needed help too. Some of them deserved so much more attention. Some of them deserved so much better from me.
They all deserved better from me. Maybe I am being too hard on myself. I am told I often am.
But then, as you're moving the 2nd load of boxes from your current room down to your trailer for next year and students are waiting on you outside your classroom, one final morning, one of your highest students hands you this:
She remembered! She remembered that I had read them something one of my 1st grader's had written me after my 1st year teaching there that sounded like The Important Book. She remembered how we had mimicked The Important Book to make an appreciation gift for two of our coaches. Then she turned around and wrote one about me all on her own!
She didn't care if I was perfect every day. She cared that I was her teacher and I helped her. I got teary-eyed as I read this. Maybe I should've been better for her.
At the end of the day - I hugged them all before they got on the bus and told them to be safe. Some of them I told them to behave! I had them all sit in a circle right before bus call - as I do every year, I remind my students that in the end it does not matter to me what their reading level is. What matters is whether or not they know how to treat people. Do you know how to show respect? Do you know how to look someone in the eye and tell the truth (I added that last one for the benefit of this year's class)? If you can do those things then you will go far in life. If not, then when you leave this room and this school for summer you might want to think about things and the type of person you want to be.
I don't know if they all understood, but if I can reach just a few then I will have succeeded in my mission. After all, I am who I am. Who I am is an educator who cares about the people my students will become. That is the best champion I can be for them.
"We Are The Champions"