I believe God gives us parting gifts. Moments in our lives that are meant to help us transition from one area or time in our life to the next…if we can take the time to see it.
I believe this year’s class was that parting gift for me. This was such a unique and special group of students. They cared for, encouraged, and looked out for each other. We truly became a very close-knit family. Sure, there were moments we got on each other’s nerves. That happens in a family. But by and large, they got along very well with each other.
They were ready, willing, and desperate to learn. Sitting passively through a lesson wasn’t the norm with any of them. They always found a way to take a topic or concept beyond the standards or my lesson plans. They would ask for harder math problems, ask to take a science experiment in a new direction, or bring up a unique point of view in reading or social studies. They were a very animated group of students, and I used that to our advantage in language lessons. I would have them act out parts of sentences, like verbs. We’d do silly voices for different types of nouns. Anything to get them up and moving (really in any subject area) was a goal of mine. I think it paid off for all of us.
Their drive to learn and be engaged helped me to feel brave enough to try new things in the classroom. Anytime I would hesitate, or start to rethink my plans, thinking I was crazy and it would never work, I’d think, “Well, with this group, it just might work.” It generally did. And if it didn’t, they had feedback to help make it better, or we made adjustments on the fly. They seemed to enjoy that. They never knew what I had in store for them (sometimes I didn’t either).
‘Winging it’ took on a whole new meaning for me this year. That’s one of the perks for teaching a grade or subject for a while, you can ‘wing it’ and see what comes out of it. Sometimes good, sometimes horrific, but you can still reflect on the experience and learn something from it. I told them I was always learning, and they believed me.
I’m seeing all this as a parting gift because I’ve been offered (strongly asked/told) to move to a different grade level. I’ve wanted to take on new challenges and make changes. It doesn’t always look the way you thought it would, but then what does? There’s still a possibility I could stay in 3rd, but I’m thinking this change could be a good thing (I keep going back and forth on this). Ending my 9 years in 3rd grade with such an amazing group of students is the best way to transition into something new and different. And on the other side of that rainbow, in two years I would get to have this group of kids again. Another gift.