Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reflections on a Very Good Year (Or 6)

It was a bittersweet day. My very first class "graduated" from elementary school and are headed for middle school. I looped with this class for kindergarten, first and second grades because there were 3 sections of kids and I was the new hire that didn't have a "permanent" spot, so I've known these kids since they were 5. Naturally, they are very special to me. Just as those students have been an integral part of the beginning of my professional life, I can only hope I was just as important to the beginning of their school life.

As I watched teary eyed at the awards ceremony this morning, one of the kids (who I had in my class in kindergarten and second grade and then 4th & 5th for library) walked to the podium and thanked me for teaching the way he learns best. Wow...Did I really do that? How did he even know? Another student called the library a "magical place where Miss Belardi makes things come alive." Really? Did I do that too? Was a highlight of their six years at Foster really when I helped a student get a poem published in first grade and when I "let" them use the handhelds? Will they really remember the time we raised butterflies? Presented Power Points at the local mall? Had Readers Theater with the disco ball? I doubt it, but I find comfort in knowing that I will have those memories and watching these 50 kids learn and grow has been (selfishly speaking) the most rewarding and happy experience. Even if it is time to let them go.

This is a crazy and completely stressful time of year. Purchase orders, inventory, and IEP evaluations demand my time and it's the time I miss being a classroom teacher the most. However, listening to the words of my now former students, I am thankful to them for being the best teachers I've ever had. I already miss them, but today, as I saw Blake's pre-school sister look at her mom with the same attitude Blake looked at me when I asked her to re-write her "f"s in Kindergarten, I look forward to beginning the cycle all over again.