I am living in the heart of the school year.
You know what I mean. Everyone knows the routine, because it has been established. Everyone knows where things go, because they have lived in the space for five months. Everyone knows what time lunch is, because... wait. No one can ever remember what time lunch is. Including me. It's that time of the year when you see the lightbulbs going off more and more. You see the real, genuine growth. Kids look back through their writing notebooks and scoff at their barely there single sentence they wrote on day one during our first free write. Then they flip to their latest piece and you see a smile spread across their face. There is so much pride living in the heart of the school year.
My fourth graders have been in our shared space for months and it feels like home. A safe place in the building where we can be ourselves. We can laugh at our little inside jokes, we can smile when Hailey comes in with another pair of Harry Potter inspired earrings, when Cam bursts through the door with the newest volume of Chicken President, and when Layla loses her mind cracking up because she has caught me making one of my classic "Mrs. Riedmiller faces."
It has taken us all year to get here, but here we are.
This is the time of the year when my sadness starts sinking in. I know my kids will leave me soon and I never know what is waiting for them in fifth grade. I know their teachers, my own colleagues, but I do not live in those spaces, so I cannot attest to them. What I do know is that they are leaving an embedded learning community. They are leaving a unique space that I have worked tirelessly to create. They are leaving a space where they have left their mark, and where their teacher will not soon forget their little quirks. The things that make them who they are. Here's the thing: I know they will be fine. I know they will enjoy fifth grade and I know that they will be successful, but that doesn't mean that I won't miss them and all of the time we shared together.
So, as we enter the testing season and the season where we start looking at little humans and deciding where they fit in the puzzle that is next year, let us remember one thing. Let us remember that these children are why we do what we do. Their smiles, their creative minds and curious hearts are why we are here. Instead of just trying to fit them into the puzzle academically, I hope we will also look at their little hearts. I hope we will say that this child would be great with another because they both have a fire in their belly for learning. That these two children go together because they are kind to everyone they meet. And maybe that this friend would fit with this teacher because their personalities are so similar. I encourage you to take a step back and celebrate all of the growth and successes of the school year. Celebrate them before it's too late to look back together. Celebrate these kids and how hard they work on a daily basis; whether it's multiplying mixed numbers, finally finishing a 200 page book or literally keeping their cool all day in a school setting. Celebrate it.
I will soak up these moments and live in the heart of the school year, because these moments are now numbered. It won't be long before our kids move on and settle into the hearts of their next teacher.