I am a reading intervention teacher in my town. I have been working with my students for the last two years. As fate would have it, I have mostly boys in my groups, and as a mom of boys I feel I am well suited to help these children.
Clearly, the end of the school year is a time for elation and jubilation for everyone involved in the school system. Students are clearly overjoyed with the prospects of summer. For parents, it’s a time for report cards, summer plans and arrangements, and reflection upon the years gone by. Teachers and administrators look forward to six to eight weeks off to recharge, relax, and revamp before the next group of students in the fall.
As a fifth grade teacher, the end of the year means so much more. Fifth grade teachers don’t get to see their students as they grow and change in subsequent grades like their counterparts in the lower grades. We have had the honor and privledge to work with what I think is the very best grade out there. Fifth graders are funny and hormonal. They are dramatic and deep. They are complex children teetering between being liitle kids and big teenagers. Fifth graders give us the best to two worlds. They have more mature sensibilities. I can joke with them using sarcasm that is lost on younger children and have important discussions with depth and meaning. They are very inquisitive and yearn for meaningful knowledge. At the same time, however, fifth graders are childlike enough to enjoy discussing cartoons, fantasy, and giggles over the silliest of issues. They are still young enough to not think I am completely lame and willing to listen when I have guidance and advice for them.
Like I said, I’ve been working with my boys for two years now and to say I think of them as my own sons is an understatement. We have worked hard in these months to improve reading fluency, vocabulary, writing skills, and reading comprehension. I have seen them struggle, give up, struggle again, bloom, and improve. I know these kids well. I know their family histories, their personal narratives, and what they like to play at recess and do during their free time. I know what makes them happy and that certain kids need hugs from me when they enter and leave our 45-minute sessions, because my hugs are the only ones they get.
After tomorrow, my boys will be gone. Tomorrow is fifth grade promotion at my school. I will be attending the ceremony and hope that I find my big black sunglasses before I go in to work, as I will undoubtedly cry the entire time. My heart breaks when I think that I will no longer be able to watch over my boys. They will be moving on to the big wide world of middle school. I fear that some of them who lack proper adult supervision may fall in to the wrong crowd or lack an educational advocate who knows what they need to succeed. When I think about their smiles no longer lighting up my classroom, I can’t help but get choked up.
As you journey through your child’s educational career, please take time to think about their teachers and what they go through and feel for your child. Teaching is a work of heart. We don’t do it for the money and what you’ve heard about the “great hours” is NOT true. We do it for the kids…for your kids.
Congratulations class of 2009. You will be missed.