This week is our last week of school for the 2017-2018 school year. I will send home for the summer 5 young men who have grown and changed. Four will return next year, one will go one to middle school, ready or not.
It’s been a long year. The past few weeks have been tough on us all, with the exhaustion of STAAR, adding a new student, and everyone having feelings about summer/being home/having a break. I’ve started to become a bit disillusioned, and honestly, just tired. Tired of behavior, tired of arguing and fighting and grades and trying to get kids who have no interest at all to do a dumb worksheet because we need a dumb grade. (told you, disillusioned) (also, teachers, your worksheets are not dumb, but they seem kind of dumb when I literally have to pull out all the stops to get them completed).
I find myself exasperated and wondering “What am I doing? Is anyone going to grow and change? Has anything we done even made a difference? Will they be ok?”. And the answer, well, is “I don’t know”.
But here’s what I have seen. This past weekend, Collin and I went to a graduation party for one of his former students. (Collin also teaches a behavior class) This student brought me to tears. We were sitting on the couch, talking between Collin, the student, myself, and another friend who worked with this student. And we were laughing. We were laughing about how crazy this kid was, and the stuff he used to do to teachers and how he was really a challenging young man. And our friend, Jerod, started talking about sitting in ARDS and listening to people talk about this kids present levels and he teared up and he said “No one knew. No one knew what it was like before.” And I thought to myself, this kid is a miracle. The fact that this kid is graduating, going to college, and got a summer job is a miracle.
And those words have encouraged me. I look at my students, especially as the school year has ended, and I look at how they walk themselves to class, how we can trust them, they’ve made friends, they belong, they treat our classroom with respect, and they love each other and all their teachers, and although it is not perfect, it’s growth.
I remember in August when we started this journey, I had no idea what I was doing, and these kids had been at 3 campuses in 2 years. They felt rejected and I was the new person trying to lead. And it was hard. There were tears and things were thrown and cuss words were said (and the kids struggled too), but here we are. We made it.
And I have every confidence that one day, I will find myself in a meeting about one of my students and teachers will be going over levels of performance and I will think to myself that “No one knows what it was like. This is a miracle”. And I have every confidence that these young men will grow in wisdom and character and one day, I will be able to say “I knew them when…”
I don’t know what the future holds for my students. I don’t know if they are headed to college or will get a job or even pass middle school. But, I know this. I know that in August, I will meet these kids again and we will continue their journey.
And I know that tomorrow, and each day this week, as we end the school year, I will tell my “Little Peanuts” that I am proud of them. That I have seen them grow and change. I will tell them that they are miracles. And I will believe in them, even if they don’t believe in themselves.
There’s always hope. If it’s your last week, I hope you send your babies home with joy and hugs. Remind them that they matter, that they are seen, that you will miss them, and that they can do hard things. And even if you think it’s never going to be ok for that student, remember there’s always hope.
And…side note…can I just seriously get an “Amen!” that summer is almost here?!?!?