I love my students. I find myself in this unique position while other people are complaining about their students of keeping my mouth shut (and attempting to keep my ears plugged and negative thoughts out) because I actually LIKE spending time with them. In fact, I choose to.
Today we took our 5th graders to go visit the middle school. As usual I had a good mix ranging from sweet/nervous to just plain overconfident. The confidence dissipated once we got into the halls full of 6/7th graders at the end of their school year eager to scream thing like "Oh look, they're SOOOOooooo CUTE and TINY" as they pointed and laughed. But that's not really the point.
The point is that I got to be there for my students during one of the most important transitional moments that they've had thus far, and by the end of the trip the students were beaming, full of plans for which sports, clubs, and activities that they plan to join. I got to take a very small group of students because I have a split and we had to "leave the 4th graders home" as we like to call our school, or home base. Sometimes "home" is their individual desks within the classroom when I get annoyed at my students for wandering around aimlessly at which point I will bark, "Go to your home!"
The idea of home and family is something that my students respond to very positively. If you know anything about the culture of bilingual students (specifically my bilingual students, many of whom are also rooted in the culture of poverty) you know that building relationships is very high up on the value system. Reaching them on that level has been a goal of mine since the beginning of the year.
My students are in a unique position as well because, at the middle school, they will have a home base (only mainstreaming for subjects in which they are highly capable of performing in English). As we toured the long and winding hallways, I continuously quizzed them about the whereabouts of their "home" and, as always, they took to the phrasing and kept themselves oriented.
It wasn't until I dropped them off for lunch that I realized that they weren't ready to leave their current home quite yet. As their new bilingual teacher promised that I'd be back to pick them up in 45 minutes, I stood behind her jokingly shaking my head and mouthing, "I'm leaving you here forever." My students started a chorus of dramatic, "noooooo's" and made desperate grabs for me as I walked away. I decided then and there that I would savor our last moments together.
When we got back to school the PTA had a special presentation prepared for the graduating 5th graders. I pulled up a chair and laughed along with them as the other 5th grade teachers sat in the back and chatted amongst themselves. Then we took the kids outside and, while my colleagues again chose to allow the students their freedom and fun time without them, I grabbed a basketball and joined my class. Every once in a while my students would stop playing, pull me in for a hug and say something like, "Don't LEAVE me Ms. Teach!" (I told you, they're very dramatic.) I tried to explain that they were actually going to be leaving me and that I really wasn't going anywhere, but it was fruitless. Anyway, I figure that in two days they'll be free of me for good. Until then, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that they're still holding on and willing to enjoy the time that we have left together.