Stat Counter

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rules, Teacher Emily

I have rules, Teacher Emily.

That's what Randall told me the other day.

Would you like to hear them?

Sure, Randall, sock it to me.

1) Always listen to Randall.
2) Students do their work.
3) I will sleep at my house.

Those are nice rules, Randall.

You can call me FBI.

Ok, FBI, go find your friends and play for a while.

I went back to my grading before I realized that Randall was onto something with these rules of his. We all have rules - unspoken or written - that shape how we live our lives. They're the mottos we live by, the things that ground us, the proverbs we play on repeat like a broken record.

I've added a new rule to my life maxims: acknowledge the end.

How to do this well and what it actually means - acknowledging the end - are still a work in progress. Acknowledging the end means saying out loud, "I won't do these things anymore, but it mattered that I did them, and it mattered that I did them with you." It means this job or person or place or season of life shaped me in significant ways and it's now coming to an end. It means I'm not the same person that I was before this (job/relationship/place/season) and I'm grateful for that. Acknowledging the end is recognizing the moments that changed me.

These moments, they deserve a hundred rounds of applause and a cash prize and a deep announcer's voice proclaiming them the winner. I've let myself be changed by the world, be changed by Pohnpei, be changed by my students and friends and host family. Each person and day and event changed me - made me more loving, more open, more patient, more empathetic, more aware of the experiences of others, of how very big the world is and how very small I am. There were moments that broke my heart and took my breathe away like a hard punch to the gut. Sometimes I became more frustrated, more short tempered, more of all those characteristics I don't want to be. Other moments left me helpless and confused and angry. These too, the hard moments, deserve their space on the podium, because we are not only changed by joy and goodness but by hard fought lessons when you walk through fire and aren't always at your best before you earn your reward.


Last week I gathered some Girl Scout Cookies, chocolate, and my pull-out students for something that I like to call a 'Teacher Emily Acknowledges the End Ceremony.' Besides teaching 1st grade this year, I've been working with small groups of students (1st-4th graders) on reading and language skills in the afternoons. I have truly thrived in this job. The chance to work with small groups and encourage these students utilized my gifts to the T.

The students and I gathered together on our last day to celebrate and to stop. We stopped for a moment over Thin Mints and Toblerone to recognize what mattered. It mattered that we met everyday to learn and share and grow this year. The moments we spent together mattered. Those moments have come to an end and this unique group of people won't ever be together again in this exact way. But we were together this year, and we learned from each other and brought our best to the table. That matters, and that's worth recognizing.

I wanted to show my students the power of acknowledging the end. There is power in naming the end, putting words to it, saying and feeling something. With each group there was a holy moment, a moment when time stopped and they all looked at me as I said, "Thank you for letting me be your teacher this year. Thank you for being my students. I care about all of you and I will miss you so much. You have changed me and I am so grateful."

Each student talked about their favorite activities and lessons from the past year. Our emotional, holy moment exchanged itself for laughter and hunger when I dug out the Thin Mints and Toblerone, but I know they got it. I saw it in their eyes.

2nd Grade

4th Grade

3rd Grade
I'm embarking on a season of goodbyes, changes, transitions, and new these next few weeks. I know I'm not the only one. If you're going through this season, too, I hope you can find healing and beauty by acknowledging the end and recognizing those moments that mattered.

No comments:

Post a Comment