Thursday, May 20, 2010

The End Times

It's true what they say, you never really realize what you have until it's gone (or almost gone). My students seem to be experiencing this mentality in droves (possibly for the first time in their lives).

Every day my 5th graders do something new and interesting to surprise me. I don't know why, after all these years, that it actually surprises me...but hey, maybe I'm a slow learner. In any case, they are starting to get this sense of The End Times and losing everything that they are comfortable and safe with as we heartlessly kick them out of the nest and send them out into the cruel cruel world (aka Middle School).

The evidence started small. I have this one kid (who actually isn't even a 5th grader, he's just moving over the summer), we'll call him Bob (no seriously, we do. even in class. It's a long story.) He has always been very wary of any physical contact from anyone. He doesn't appreciate a friendly pat on the shoulder and when his friends try to grab him for an enthusiastic hug he complains loudly and tries to get them off. We've all established that you just don't touch Bob because he doesn't like it. Throughout the year, my students have learned to respect that. Anyway, about two weeks ago, Bob started to randomly pat me on the arm as he passed me. The other day (completely out of nowhere and in the middle of a spelling lesson) he declared in sing-song voice, "Ms. Teach in the best teacher in the wooooorld." Yesterday when he put his hand up to answer a question I gave him five (because I'm goofy like that) and he grabbed my hand and held on.

Then, yesterday I was in the middle of a math lesson and it was just not going well. The students were frustrated, and I don't think I showed that I was, but they must have picked up on it. I gave up on the lesson half-way through, explained that we needed a break, and that we would pick it up again tomorrow. One of my students asked, "Well what are we going to do now?" to which my (secret) Favorite Pumpkin (the one with ADHD who has revolutionized my entire teaching process this year) responded promptly, "Hug Ms. Teach!!!" Then, all of a sudden, I had a swarm of small people all around me. May I remind you that these are FIFTH graders?! In my world, for the majority of the time, 5th graders are a little too cool for hugging their teacher.

My students are safe with me. This makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but I think it makes their transition process even harder. If they were looking forward to leaving me, maybe things would be different. I'm trying to guide them through this just as I've guided them through everything else this year, but as I try to gradually let go, they are clinging to me for dear life.

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