Friday, June 10, 2011

Week 34: The Last Week

These posts I’ve been writing every Friday about my first year at this new school I’m working at I usually write sometime on Thursday. Now it’s Friday night and I’ve sat down to write about my final week of the school year and I’m not sure what to say.

There’s so much to talk about. There’s the sing-along in a playground I did with fifth grade, watching Star Wars: Episode IV with my seventh grade (involving students of mine who had never seen the film before), inspiring conversations with a kindergarten teacher who used to design toys, leading a group of almost 400 students and staff in singing “This Land Is Your Land” and what it means to finish this school year. And I can’t forget performing “Love Story” during recess with a group of my students to fulfill a promise I made on the first day of school.

I’ll probably write about these moments later in the summer, as they are significant and meaningful. But right now, what’s in the front of my mind is something smaller a moment with a student who until a couple weeks ago I barely knew.

I expected my fifth grade students excitedly coming up to me with their yearbooks asking me to sign. I sat down in the fifth grade hallway and must have signed thirty in a row before escaping up to the middle school floor.  That made sense as I taught all of the fifth grade.

My middle school situations was different because I only taught about 1/2 of the seventh grade as the band teacher (the other students were in choir) and I taught about 1/3 of the 8th grade. I knew of the choir students but I didn’t really get an opportunity to teach them or get to know them which is why I was surprised that Margaret, an 8th grade choir student ran up to me and insisted that I sign her year book.

A couple weeks earlier I was up in the 8th grade hallway talking to another teacher and Margaret was hanging out. I made some jokes about her, she made some jokes back and that five minute exchange was pretty much the extent of our interaction for that year.

So why would she come up to me with her yearbook? Maybe she was simply collecting all the teachers’ signatures or thought it was one more joke she could make but as I started to write in her book I looked up and noticed that she was waiting for me to sign in an almost empty classroom as groups of 8th graders socialized in the hallway.

So I spent another minute, went past the standard message I had been writing in the yearbooks and tried to write something and a little bit more meaningful.  Now, this may have meant nothing to Margaret, but it may have meant something more. I don't know  But our conversations and this gesture of asking me to sign her yearbook stuck with for some reason.

Every actions, every conversation is an opportunity to connect, to show someone that you care.  That is what makes teaching meaningful and significant to students, when teachers take these moments and do something with them.  I don't know if I made any sort of impact on Margaret but I don't think it matters that in a way.

Like the song the 8th grade chose to sing at their graduation, "Fix You" by Coldplay, the expression of care and love isn't that you fix people around you but that you try.

Maybe that's what this whole school year has been about. 

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