"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Last Day...

Monday was my last day.

We started the day with the "sixth grade awards" breakfast. Our school is K through 6th...and when the 6th graders finish the year they go off to the middle school. Each year the 6th grade teachers (as well as the special area teachers - music, art, band, etc) award those students who have made significant achievement or improvement. Students get awards for citizenship, academic achievement, and contributing to the school and community. I've participated in presenting awards to the 6th graders for all the years I've been a Resource teacher. It's nice to be able to see the students I had as first and second graders...to celebrate their accomplishments.

It was easier to say goodbye to the students than I thought it would be. At the end of the day on the last day, the teachers gather outside, as the buses load up. When they're full...and ready to leave, we all stand on the sidewalk and wave good-bye to the students for the summer. For me, and the other retirees, it was the last time we would participate in that tradition.

Since I've been working as a Resource teacher, pulling students out of their classrooms a few at a time and trying to help them increase their reading achievement, I haven't developed the relationships with students that I did when I had my own classroom. Some years there were just too many students...my first year as a resource student I worked with more than 50 students...though the numbers decreased over the years. When I added a half day of Reading Recovery I had even fewer students...and for the last few years I've been averaging 20-30 students a year. In addition, I only worked with first and second grade students...so I would do what I could in those two years and then give the responsibility of bringing them up to speed to their classroom teachers. As a result, I didn't get to know the students as well as I did when I had my own classroom and it was easier to wave good-bye to them.

[By the way, the lack of that emotional attachment to students...the feeling of family you get after spending months together in a classroom...is among the things that I missed when I left the general ed. classroom]

After the buses left I walked around the building...going to each classroom and saying goodbye to the other teachers. I found the custodians...went to the office and said good-bye to the secretaries and principal. I've worked with some of them for the entire 19 years I've been at this school...and some were relatively new. Some of the teachers had my own children as students, so I have known them for longer than I worked at the school. This experience was surprisingly easier than I expected...

...until I got to my "team." The special services team works closely together. Aside from me, the members of the team include the Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP), the Guidance Counselor, and, in our building, two Special Education teachers. These are the people with whom I have worked closely over the last years of my teaching career. I've developed especially close relationships with the SLP and the Guidance Counselor. We became more than colleagues...we talked about more than our students. We shared personal problems and successes as well as professional information. My retirement doesn't mean that we will lose the friendships we developed, but it does mean that the day to day support and contact will be gone, and I do feel the emotional loss. Saying good-bye was personal...emotional...and exactly as hard as I imagined it would be.

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