Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Students

I finally managed to get our team awards done yesterday and gave them to my team members so they could verify signatures, etc. I typed up awards for all As all year in each academic area, and most improved in each homeroom. The front office prepared our certificates for all As all year, all As and Bs all year, and perfect attendance----the usual, you know. As a team we decided to give our awards tomorrow so if there is some sort of mistake it can be corrected in time to give a new certificate to a student. As of 3:30 p.m. we still did not have our certificates the office was going to prepare. I hope we get them tomorrow morning.

My plan is to give out awards, have students place them in their book bags, clean out desks, and take up textbooks. I’ll have the students help me clean out files, inventory and reorganize my classroom library, dust, sweep, and step-and-fetch. We clean in my classroom at least once every nine weeks and the little darlins’ love it. I wonder if they are this helpful at home? Never mind, I’m a mom. I know the answer.

One of the things I give out to all of my students is my final farewell letter to them. I’ve taught siblings of my students and invariably someone will say, “Oh, my sister still has her letter.” One young man told me last year that his mom keeps my letter in his older brother’s file with all of his awards.

The first year I taught I tried to hand the letter out and then read it aloud. I ended up crying, they ended up crying, and I don’t have to tell you how young people can become very dramatic. So I usually fold the letter in half and write their name on the paper. I hand them out and instruct everyone not to open their letter until everyone has theirs. Once everyone opens their letter together and begins to read I try to busy myself in a hurry. I put things away, I straighten papers, or I simply walk back and forth acting like I’m doing something. Invariably I catch a few girls and even boys wipe a tear away. Some of my strong, young men will put their heads down and wipe their eyes out of view. Luckily no one tries to hug me or I think I would just die.

As of tomorrow 380 students have received my letter. Here is what it says:

Dear Students:

At the end of my first year teaching I wanted to bring the year to a close by writing a note to my students. This letter has become a tradition---every student who has passed through my classroom has received this letter as my farewell. It is amazing to me that 380 students have received this letter so far. Please take the advice I give you to heart, and never forget that I care about your success.

The following is a poem written by Shel Silverstein---I thought it was appropriate for this point in your lives. Mr. Silverstein wrote:

All the woulda-coulda-shouldas
Layin’ in the Sun,
Talkin’ ‘bout the things-

They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those woulda-coulda-shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

During your last year of elementary school followed by middle school and high school concentrate on doing things that will have a positive effect on your lives. Choose your friends wisely, listen to your parents and teachers, and do the very best you possibly can in everything you attempt.

On your final day of high school don’t look back on the things you would have done, could have done, or should have done. My hope is that you will look back on a fine, long list of accomplishments that happened because you aimed high, took chances, lived up to your potential, and most importantly you did something.

I will always consider myself to be your teacher. I hope you will stay in touch through the coming years to let me share in your success.

With fond memories of each of you, I remain,


Ah, another year almost over.........


Amerloc said...

/wipes away tear

A year ago next week I did something similar for (as far as I know and until-the-annuity-runs-out) the last time. And last weekend, three former students on a dash-across-the-country trip stopped by to visit. It gets no better, and no less tearful.

This gonna be kind of a hard week-or-two. Still reaping the rewards, I guess.

Dan Edwards said...

Very nice and thoughtful. Your students are lucky to have a teacher like you!

EHT said...

Thanks to both of you. I was astounded that none of my letters were left behind this year. They all made it out the door.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this story. I am just finishing my student teaching and I have been searching for an appropriate activity for my third graders. I was leaning towards sharing and writing some poetry. I like the Silverstein poem. I hope you don't mind me following your example by using it in my activity.


EHT said...

Of course not, Steve. That's why I posted it in the first place. I hope it works for you, and good luck in your teaching career.

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind, I may try to start something like this and I really like the poem.