So, my life in the year since graduation has been, pretty much, a series of firsts. An exercise in adaptation, experimentation, patience, and “just go with it.” At my program, a mix between a daycare, a preschool, an after-school center, and a summer camp, we continue to teach through the summer. Our class size tends to reduce, at least somewhat, at least temporarily, and we remix the class. The oldest ones who are becoming bored move up to Pre-K, the younger ones stay, and some even younger ones are moved up to our room.
Today, we got our class list for the summer. Of 19, five of our kids will stay with us for the summer. It was expected that this would happen. Actually, I was surprised that any would stay. By August, or perhaps September, the entire group of 23 that made up “my first class” will have moved on to another program, another class, onward, upward, out of my reach. These won’t be the first goodbyes. Already four kids have left for various reasons. We think of them, we wonder, we hope they are well. And then we get back to the faces in front of us, focusing on the problems we can, or at least still try, to solve.
This transition is, to be extremely cliche, bittersweet. There are the kids that we are happy to pass on. Some because they’ve been ready for months and we want them to grow and learn more than we teach. Some because we have run out of ideas/techniques/patience and we want someone with a fresh perspective to have a go. And then there are the kids that we don’t want to let go. The child who came to us with emotional issues who blossomed into a kind friend and a bright student. The child who struggled through behavior problems for a month before finding a comfort zone where he has been able to succeed. We feel like our work is not done with them. We worry that another class, another teacher, another room, another routine… might throw them right back to where they started. We wonder if their new teachers will understand them like we do, will love them like we do, will work with them like we do. We wonder if they will listen to their new teachers, if they will stay on the right track, if they will succeed.
We’ve done all we can. It’s out of our hands. All we can do is think of them, wonder, and hope they do well. And we’re lucky, with most of them, that we will still see them once in a while, at least for a few more months.