Moving On

The end of last year was really hard. Harder than previous years, for a few reasons. I started out teaching third and fourth grade, then moved up to fifth and sixth. I didn’t get any of the same students for the next loop, but it meant I saw my former kids all the time. So out of the 100 kids at this grade, I had 50 of them. In the four years with these kids, I got engaged, bought a house, got married, became a mother. I really became an adult, and hit so many milestones. These kids were with me for them.

It’s hard to move on after two years with a group no matter the situation, but it’s especially hard when they leave the school. When my fourth graders moved on, I still saw them all the time. Granted the sixth graders moved across the street, but it still means I see them far less. So visits from my former students have been so important since school started.

When the first day of school ended, I looked up to see one of them in the door. “Hi,” she said. “I need you.” And she started to cry. Turns out she was just feeling a bit overwhelmed by the transition to middle school, but was totally fine. Other kids have popped in throughout the week. Sometimes they wave from a distance. Sometimes they run to me and hug me. On one occasion, they snuck in while my current class was still here, and sat on the rug with them. It took 3 minutes before I even noticed. Yes, they timed me. So far every day I have seen at least one former student.

I love these visits, but I know they’ll taper off soon. And that’s good for both of us. They need to start feeling like their new school is home. I need to start feeling like my current class is where my heart is. It’ll happen on both ends. It always does. But the transition is hard.

A colleague and I were talking about it in the staff room yesterday.

“We go into it knowing it has to end, that it won’t last, but it’s still hard to say bye.” She said.

“And we want them to be happy, and like where they are now, but I don’t want them to forget me.” I said.

“I know I’ll love the new ones just as much eventually, but right now I just really miss the old class.” She said.

Then another colleague leaned over and said “Until you said class, I assumed you guys were talking about exes.”

We laughed, but that analogy really works.

So here’s to a new year! To teaching fifth grade again (I’ve found I like the 5/6 loop more than the 3/4 one.) To kids who don’t yet smell like sweat and cheap cologne, complain about hormones, and roll their eyes at everything. To a new group, and all their quirks, charm, and uniqueness.

I love my job.

Damn you, Google.

Summer FLEW by! I shouldn’t be surprised by this at this point.

 Earlier this week, I set up my classroom, and invited parents and students in to meet me and see the class before school started. I like to do this because it helps soothe some of the kid’s nerves, and it let’s me get a head start on knowing their names, recognizing their faces, and having anxiety nightmares that I have lost them in various unlikely places.

 The parents were all very nice- kind, inquisitive, friendly. One couple came up to me, all smiles, introduced themselves, and said cheerily, “We googled you!”

 My first thought was “Oh, crap.”

 You see, I’m not just the tattooed teacher… I’m the teacher with the criminal record. It’s nothing awful. I got arrested at a protest last year. I was on a march in New York, we followed the wrong route, ended up on a bridge… maybe you heard about it on the news. Anyway, I wound up in zip-tie handcuffs on the back of an MTA bus, and eventually in a cell for a long, cold, hungry night. It was an interesting life experience. Almost 800 people got arrested in one go, but I ended up unexpectedly front and center. I got my picture taken, cuffs on and yelling, and those ended up in some news articles, including some major papers. I also ran my big ol’ mouth off to even more news organizations, so if you google my name, virtually every thing that pops up also contains the word “occupy.” It doesn’t take much digging to see that I was arrested.

 That said, no one I work with thought much of it, or cared much. I’m the butt of jokes at staff meetings, and my students from last year thought it was hilarious. But to have the first thing you find out about your kids new teacher is that she was arrested… I felt bad. Credit to them though, those parents didn’t seem too phased. “It’s fine,” they assured me. “We’re glad he has a politically active teacher!”

Score one for the rebels. Have I mentioned lately I love this school?