Today began like any other school day. My students got started on their morning work, I checked planners and folders for notes from parents, we sang our "Welcome to School" song and merrily did the dance moves right to it. But when the song was done, I looked at my friends and said, as always, "Good morning, first grade." They always reply with, "Good morning, Miss Leiss." At this point I tell my kids, "Let's make today a GREAT day." But today, I said this: "Guess what, first grade?" "What, Miss Leiss?" "I didn't know if you knew this or not. But we only have 30 days left together. So let's make today a great day. Let's make each day count. What do you think?"
"Only 30 days left?" "What?!? 30 days? That's it?" "Can we make school longer?" "I don't want to leave!"
It's not only hard for my students to believe, but also for me, that there are only 6 weeks left of this school year. What a beautiful, messy, ordained year it has been. I have come to love a group of 20 students as if they were my own children, feeling more like a mother figure than an educator, students now with tears in their eyes not wanting to leave me.
Trust me, little ones, I don't want you to leave me, either.
I have realized that I am going to be one insane parent one day. I'm going to go nuts the day I have to drop them off in Kindergarten, or even preschool, or even with a babysitter. It amazes me that these parents and caregivers trust us as educators each day to take their children in and help them become who they are meant to be. What if someone can't do it? What if someone can't do it as well as I can, help my child see their potential and bring out the best in them? What if someone can't see past the insecurities or weaknesses and see the beauty and strength in him or her?
I think that's how I'm beginning to feel about my sweet students. I know them and I know them well. I know what makes them tick. I know what voice to use and what words to say to each one, I know how to get them to work better, I know how to help them when they are having a bad day, I know exactly how they are feeling when they do that one face, or sit that certain way. I have come to love the unlovables, the ones who always seem to get into trouble or hurt others' feelings, the ones who steal or fight or cut others down. I have come to see behind all of that frontal misbehavior and see into their souls. I have begun to give hugs at any time-- who says I can't hug a student in the middle of something? Maybe it is exactly what that student needs at that moment to push through. I have become quite fond of my students, and I love them to pieces. I know they are my first round of kiddos and they will always hold a really special place in my life. I just can't stand the thought of them going from me, to hand them over to another capable educator here, who will probably do an amazing job as well. It's not that I don't trust that. It's just the fear of the unknown, the fear of someone not seeing the best in one of my students and bringing that out of them, the fear of someone not appreciating the fact that Kiwi celebrates far too enthusiastically about the vegetable that comes with the school lunch every morning by my door, someone not finding the angelic-ness in one of my roughest students and fueling it with constant praise and encouragement, someone not seeing the academic brilliance of one of my quiet students, someone not embracing the curiosity and constant questioning of one of my most knowledgeable and astounding minds. I see so much greatness and strength in each of my students. They have come so far and I want them to continue to be held to high expectations, to meet them, to feel like they can meet them.
I really am not trying to make it seem like I don't trust in the other teachers here. I am so ecstatic for them to get to know and love my kids. I think it's also that I just need to trust that they are not mine to keep, but they are all God's, whether they know or believe they are, or whether anyone reading thinks they are. I am using my freedom to say that I believe He has them in His hands and He will continue to be with them through everything, in everything, developing them into who they are supposed to be. It is with this trust that I am able to let go slowly, as the days continue to count down.