As many of you know, last week I finished up summer school for my 4th graders. It was a roller coaster process. I taught summer school at a different school than where I’ll be during the school year, so I didn’t know these kids before and will likely not see them again unless they reach out. All of that is to say, establishing classroom culture takes time and that’s one thing we were short on in our quick month of summer school.
There were days when I didn’t think they learned a single thing. There were days when I cried on the drive home because I was sure I failed them as a teacher. There were days when I was pretty sure I wasn’t good enough for this and wanted to throw up my hands and apologize to the kids for not being a better teacher and give up.
There were days where we laughed together throughout the day. There were days when their observations and connections were so on point that I cried tears of happiness on the way home. There were more days when I was absolutely sure that I am in the right profession and that they learned so much during the lessons. There were days that ended in hugs and excited conversations of what was to come tomorrow. And there were days of bright, shining successes.
Last Friday, our last day, we gave a post-assessment to our kids to see how much they actually learned during our time. A way to measure if I taught well enough more than measuring their scores for perfect correctness.
My kids passed with flying colors.
Grading those was the happiest feeling. The days I thought I had failed and the kids learned nothing? The kids still used the skill/ strategy I tried to teach that day to think about and solve problems.
The days I cried on the way home? The kids wrote about how they knew their teacher cared about them because of how I talked to them and pushed them.
The days I thought I would never be good enough? All pushed away.
My kids learned. They grew. They knew I loved and cared about them.
After the math part of the assessment, the child I had the most struggles with was chatting with me. He talked of baseball and books, his brother and mom. Then he paused and said, “I know sometimes I don’t think I acted like it, but I really do like you. I’m going to miss you.” And then continued on talking about other things 9 year old boys like. Such a simple thought and sentence for him. A HUGE win and impact for me.
As we got ready to say goodbye, it was a simple hug, high five, and wave as we walked out the doors. Inside, it was so much more.
It was a sign of success. Of their success. Of how much more prepared they are for next year because of summer school. Because of me.
It was my success, too.