The One Where We Said Goodbye
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne
I never really read Winnie the Pooh books growing up. My favorite was Jillian Jiggs. It’s about a little girl who never cleaned up her room. She would start and then invent a new game to play which made a bigger mess until her mom finally fainted. I could never remember if she actually ended up cleaning up her room.
Endings weren’t my thing. I liked the beginning when the characters were introduced. I loved stuff in the middle. The adventure and missteps that lead to lessons learned were all so good in the middle. But the end just seemed sad because the story was over.
My school year is over.
The end wasn’t my favorite. It just seemed sad. I had a goal at the beginning of this year that these students would know how to persevere with a growth mindset and know that they were loved.
I liked the beginning of our story. I remember “interviewing” each of my new students and asking them what I could do to make first grade great. Most said they didn’t know or more hugs. So I started the “ten-second hug” option. We did peace circles and learned how we were similar and different. We learned how to encourage each other and celebrate mistakes.
I loved the middle. They learned that every book was my favorite…and that I cry when I read books I love. We had snowball fights with phonics sounds and traveled the world in an airplane. They broke a ton of my books and everything in peace corner, but they were careful not to hurt each other’s hearts.
Then we came to the end. I was left with the question: was it enough?
Did my kids learn how to have a growth mindset and preserve? Do they know and believe that I love them?
I packed up my classroom last week. I filled the bags with their notebooks that held silly stories about raining jello, free drawing of their friends, and phonics skills. I added a card and some pictures from our beginning and our middle. I hoped it would be enough to help with this weird end. I wrote the quote from A.A. Milne on the front. He wrote it for Winnie the Pooh. It was the last quote of the day for them and my wish for their future.
When I was packing up the room I found a birthday card from one of my girls. She gave it to me at the beginning of March knowing my birthday was at the end of the month. I remember teasing her about making me wait and she replied with a sassy remark and a ten-second hug. She even tapped it shut to make sure I didn’t cheat. I put the card in my bag and took it home.
I waited a day and then decided to open it. I was stunned when I read what she wrote. God knew what my tired teacher heart needed to hear.
I love you.
I have a good bubble gum brain because you taught me to never give up and persevere.
I’ll love you forever.
Then if that blessing wasn’t enough, on our last two zooms several students told me that the biggest lesson they learned was how to not give up. When I asked who had the biggest impact on them this year they said I did because I loved them no matter what. Even when they were making bad choices or frustrated they knew I didn’t stop loving them. #cuethetears
They knew I loved them. They learned how to persevere. They were worried about making friends, but knew they could overcome it. They learned growth mindset.
So my job is done.
Thank you Lord for the beginning, the middle, and the end.