My stint of being a third-grade teacher (temporarily) has reached its end. For the longest time, I said I wanted to be a third-grade teacher after loving my own teacher that year. And now that I have that dream out of my system, I can go the rest of my life not wondering if I missed out on not fulfilling that childhood career goal. Some things are better left in the past. I am, on the other hand, reconsidering my desire of working in a school in my career field of speech pathology instead of where I thought I wanted to work. But back to getting to my point. These past four weeks have been some of the most challenging yet rewarding days that have taught me so much.
The kiddos in my classroom have worked hard for me, but we have also had lots of fun together. Some days, though, made me wonder if we were on our way to struggle town riding the hot mess express. We were a lot to handle and other times we had some insightful moments. Each week, I tried to have an activity that enforced good character traits. My first fun Friday with them entailed watching Kid President sharing twenty things we need to say more often, and our follow-up to his call to action was coming up with Random Acts of Kindness. They loved it, and I could hear and see them taking our discussion to heart.
I liked to start off the mornings with some positivity. And as dorky as the song I picked was, I think it worked. Between the catchy tune and simple phrase, we were bound to have a great day (in theory). To share our new-found positivity, the students wrote anonymous compliments to each other, and upon opening their report cards, they would see what classmate said something nice to them. It is the small things that matter.
Watching Kid President’s videos kind of became our thing and is what bonded us together. I used them for a few reasons: (1) they were good messages to kids (simply put), (2) sometimes when a kid says something other kids are more likely to listen better than when an adult says it, and (3) Kid President knows what is cool and can relate to whatever audience is willing to listen. So, during the last week of school, I showed them yet another video. This one was great! The kids hung on every word. I posed a question for their writing prompt. Previously, some fought me on writing journal prompts, but not this time. I was shocked and impressed all the same. It had taken three weeks to get them to reach the enjoyment in the writing stage. As I read the responses, my heart filled with joy. I compiled them and set music to it just so I could share it with as many people as I could. The kids were proud of their work, and in turn, I was proud of their thought process towards changing the world.
One of the things my right-hand helper in the classroom and I tried to teach the kids was how to write letters. They wrote to each other, and that went well, but I thought there would be meaning behind me writing each and every one of my students a personal letter, and then they returned the favor with a letter back in response. I thought those response letters back were either going to be really blunt and tell me how crazy they thought I was or they would be adorable and say funny things. These kiddos surprised me again and came up with a beautiful collection of compliments and stories about what they liked doing with me as their teacher. They had me laughing at the jokes one minute and crying the next at their disclosure of how much they had learned in the few short weeks we had to together. I had already learned about them through conversation, but they shared even more in the letters. Some shared their favorite books to read, and others chronicled what they hoped summer would entail in a few short days. I even enticed a few students to become bloggers, notebook bloggers that is (until they are old enough to have an online one). That especially made me happy.
On the last day of school, I thought the kids would come in bouncing off the walls with excitement and asking how many more minutes stood between them and summer. That was the furthest thing from reality. I had kids come in with tears streaming down their cheeks and begging not to leave. I did all I could to keep the morning upbeat and distracted from their emotions. Through tears, I had one little girl raise her hand and tell me, “Miss Corne, you were the best thing that ever happened to us because you cared and whipped us into shape real quick.” Well, there went any amount of strength I had not to cry right along with them. There I was trying to hold it together for them, and they broke me. I should mention it does not take much to make me cry, but that hit me right in the feels, and it was downhill from there. We tried consoling each other, and I tried to give some good pep talks. That was not working, so it was just one big cry fest in my classroom that migrated to the hallways as we cheered on the fourth graders as they took their final walk in that building. My heart broke when I had to walk my class out for the last time this year to the buses and put crying kids on the bus. Nobody prepared me for that part of my job. I did not think I had gotten that attached to my kids, but who was I fooling? My teary eyes were proof that I had gotten really attached.
Third grade is a fun age. They ask millions of questions (some days it made my head spin and my left eye twitch). They are curious, genuinely curious. They are so impulsive, but I get it. Each child in this world has to figure things out for themselves and learn where they belong. And as challenging as this experience has been, the good days far out-weighed the bad days. When I look around and see the current generation and the ones to come, I wonder what the future may look like. Most of the kids now have some extra obstacles to overcome and cannot help the background they come from. But if they only learned one thing from me the entire time I was there it was that they could change the world and turn things around for themselves. I had my eyes opened to the next generation of leaders, creators, and doers. So even on dark days in society, I captured a glimpse of a light shown on a renewed hope for a bright future.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2018