Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Done Deal

Whatever happened to my intentions of blogging about my last year of teaching? Living my 'teacher life' in the moment and loving nearly every minute, that's what happened. So here it is July and I have said good bye to my last batch of kindergartners and I am somewhat apprehensive about  how that will feel come September. I am doing a tiny bit of tutoring this summer but I  am more out  the door than in. The school I taught in has a passage ritual for outgoing 5th graders, the 5th grade teachers, and any retiring teachers. We are assigned to write our memories of our time in the school. Then in June the 5th graders, 2 per day, read their memories over the loud speaker  to the entire school, as part of the morning announcements. Then on the very last two or three days of school the teachers take turns reading their memories. I had my students come up to the microphone with me and sing the song that is at the beginning of my speech. 

“If you want to be a friend be a friend, be a friend. If you want to see a smile, be a smile if you want to have fun, with each and everyone, be a friend , be a friend, be a friend.” For 21 years I have been starting Septembers teaching  songs like that one  to Kindergartners at Sanislo. 21 years at Sanislo, but once I add on the 10 years in other schools I have been teaching 31 years, all but one of those years in kindergarten. Yes, I never got enough of goldfish crackers for snacks, inspecting loose teeth and tying shoes.  21 years in one school, that number amazes even me. Sanislo by the numbers for me looks like this: 6 different principals, 3 different teaching partners, 19 years teaching with Mrs. Parker,  about 572 students,  3696 times walking down and then back up the hill from recess (and probably telling you to “WALK!” not run, at least that many times), 21 Field Days, and 63 Field trips, 50 or more visits to Sanislo family homes where I was always welcomed. Every year my greatest joy has been seeing the light in children’s eyes when reading starts to click and they hold books in their laps or on their desks and they read, read, read, with more persistence and focus than I ever imagined them having in September. I especially liked watching kindergarteners partner read with a friend as they built each other up, becoming stronger and stronger readers.  My favorite field trip has always been to the Center for Wooden Boats. The paddle in the umiaq is challenging and fun and no one has ever fallen in the water. This year we saw turtles resting on a log in the sun and the model boats you made were SO cool! In the classroom, I love teaching the Science Units and especially like having the 5th grade buddies visit the kindergarten to help with weaving and sewing. I sometimes saw 5th graders wearing the fleece hat they sewed in kindergarten and that made me smile.  Fifth graders, you were the last class that got an August visit to your house from me, before the start of the school year. I remember the boy who served me cookies and tea, the girl who sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the girl who hula hooped impressively and more than one child who showed me an action figure or Barbie doll, and a few of you who drew pictures to hang next to my desk. Fifth grade buddies I was so grateful for your daily escort of the kindergarteners up our LONG Sanislo path from the playground. Your faces at the classroom door sometimes showed frustration or impatience with your 5 year old charge but mostly I saw smiles and heard kind and happy words exchanged between you and your partner. The buddy system builds friendship and responsibility. I thank the 5th grade teachers for teaching you the importance of giving service to your school community. Thank you to all my fellow teachers for the  camaraderie over the years. You commiserated and rejoiced with me along the path of this rewarding, and ever changing career that we share. Your support made all the difference. And in response to the little boy who asked me, as many before him have also asked, “You live at Sanislo, Right Mrs. Goethe?” No I do not live here, but Sanislo, you will always live in my heart.