soul strikers

powerful moments in education

When Students Move On…

Do you ever think of the worlds you once knew but no longer exist?

This concept has been a curious one to me for awhile.  In the fall of 1999, I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador at La Universidad San Fransisco de Quito through the International Partnership for Service Learning. My days involved being awoken in Spanish by the empleada, drinking instant cafe with bread, and grabbing a banana and freshly made juice for the road.  Catching buses. Meeting American and Ecuadorian friends.  Pretending to understand class discussions.

But when I anxiously returned for a visit the following New Years, the world I once knew was no longer there.  It didn’t exist. “Nunca sera igual.” (It will never be the same) asserted one of my host brothers as my final days as a member of the family loomed.  I was not mature enough at the age of 20 to understand what this meant.  I mean, I experienced the disappearing world  upon graduation from college, but I suppose I wasn’t really paying attention.  The world I once knew, sounds I once heard, phone numbers I once called- all disconnected.

In the close of a 2 year cycle, I approach  the inevitable.  My 4th graders become 5th graders.  They go upstairs. The world I once knew dissolves with puberty. As a looping teacher, I experience this every 2 years.  Some years I am ready to move on- actually, in my memory EVERY other year I have been ready- and so have they- to move on.  There is something about this group that is exceptionally difficult.  We have created, written, observed, sugared, talked, laughed, problem-solved, and argued.

Maybe it is because they are a mere 13 in total.  Maybe it is because they were craving knowledge, literacy, and all types of skill from day one.  Maybe it is because I have honed my craft as a teacher with them as my co-conspirators.  What I do know, however, is that from the time they enter from the time they leave, I feel productive and creative and their actions show clearly that they understand that their job is to be learners. To be compassionate. To ask questions. To be human. To be 10.

I don’t really know how I did it, but they are certainly down-to-earth products of their parents, thankfully. And I suppose I am writing this now to begin to figure that out, because in a short few months, I will do it all over again.  A leader and colleague told me today that “new students should now be lucky to be in your class” and while this may be true, it’s like saying my recently lost pet will never return and a new animal will steal my heart. There is just a passion, a thirst, a creativity and a spark that is my current clan…and I know that it will dissolve in a few short weeks.

Professionally, I can step back, however, and remember that it is not about me.  It is not about me and my 2 year learning relationship with the best class I have ever had.  It is about these 13 students.  It is about the skills, interest, compassion, laughter, questions, projects, discussions, and camaraderie that DID exist amongst THEM.  This will follow them through the tough years to come.

Perhaps it does not dissolve, but rather sprouts.  And I suppose I am one of the roots.


7 comments on “When Students Move On…

  1. conversationeducation
    May 25, 2012

    Lots of bitter sugar in this piece. The truth is there ARE those groups that just stick with you. 20 years later and I still have those classes in my head as perpetual 9 year olds who will never leave. I still hear their voices, see their faces and they live with me and add to my fuel to keep on keeping on in education.
    Honor this sadness. Let you kids know that you are also experiencing this and know…just like your time studying abroad it becomes part and parcel of who you are.
    Your continuous curiosity and growth as an educator has created this community with you alongside your young learners…it is a beautiful thing my friend! Dwell there and in all you have created together with them.


  2. Janna Haubach (Mom)
    May 24, 2012

    I hear you! Never have I understood more from you than when you were a camp counselor in your college days. You have always had an instinct for teaching and I love you for it and so much more!!


  3. Janna Haubach (Mom)
    May 24, 2012

    I hear you from your very soul!!!! I always knew what a great teacher you would be but you have far surpassed that. Love ya!!!!!!


  4. Collette
    May 24, 2012

    Thank you for posting this. I have had all of these thoughts running through my head this past week as we are 14 days until the end. Just know that they will always remember you. They have learned so much in these past two years. You will always be someone’s favorite teacher.


    • soul strikers
      May 24, 2012

      It is soooo true for this group. And I am so glad you connected with this post, Collette. I would love to hear your words on your group. Really!


  5. Lindsay
    May 24, 2012

    Well said, my friend.


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This entry was posted on May 24, 2012 by in education, Mental Crockpot, Teacher, Teacher! and tagged , .

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