On the last Tuesday, my students put on a stellar performance for their families and the therapists who work with them. Our "show" included three songs and a dance. The students had been practicing for weeks, and even the most reluctant seemed highly enthusiastic and energetic. Then the classroom began to fill with their families. The youngest students just lost it. They couldn't understand why I was asking them to stand with their friends while their beloved family members were within sight. I let these students be with their families during the performance because that is where they needed to be.
One student just had a complete meltdown in the middle of the show for no known reason. Another student who had previously been belting out the words and gestures froze and refused to make eye contact when his parent entered. One parent walked in after everything was over and asked if we could re do it because the bus was late. All in all though, I do believe that they tried their best. I was also excited because this was the first time that every student had SOMEONE there. It is a rotten feeling to look around and see everyone else's family and not see yours. Kudos to the families of my students for making it, for being there for their child. At the end of show, each student took his or her end of year pail ( complete with certificates, bubbles and other summer fun) to his or her family. The families left, most of the students stayed and cookies and juice were enjoyed by all.
After the show and during the last few days of school, many of the parents chatted with me about the pending arrival of my daughter. Some offered labor advice, others expressed disappoint or disapproval of my plans for next year, and still others sent in thoughtful gifts to help welcome The New One.
I worked hard to manage my emotions during this final week. I mean, I am going into unchartered territory. The school year/summer vacation schedule has a familiar rhythm to it. I know what to expect. I make notes about what worked this school year and what I want to improve on. I spend August shopping for deals on school supplies and reviewing my notes about improving my teacher. I am having a baby and will not be in the classroom for the 2010-2011 school year. It's a big difference and the fear of the unknown often found me on the verge of tears as I packed up the classroom, sent student work home, and signed off on my students' cumulative records.
The students inquired several times about when the New One would arrive, assuming it would be that first day of summer vacation. They inquired about their transition to Kindergarten and some expressed sadness about the length of summer vacation. And then suddenly, by some magical force, we were all ready, together. The room was packed, the students gave hugs and powerful goodbyes and there was nothing else to do except enjoy the last few moments we had together as a community of learners.