It is 2 am and my mind is racing a million miles an hour. Being awoken with nightmares of former students devastated and crying, I decided maybe it would be a better idea to process and write. When I had to tell my students I had to leave, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
We had only been together for less than two months, but we grew together as a team, as a family. We sat in a circle at the end of the day and after I shared the news, we cried together. I took the class outside to have time and process. They cuddled up in corners with friends, some walked alone, most not only crying but sobbing. I do not wish for anybody to ever have to go through this. We hugged and started to get through it. It almost seemed to bond us even more. I gave them an entire week so they could ask questions and prepare for when I left.
Conferences were difficult as well. Many parents waited a long time to have their kiddos in my class, some fought hard to request and get me as a teacher - with tears and gratefulness they ALL wished me the best and supported my decision. My heart melted with all the support and affection I received.
The last day, I prepared well to ensure we were busy and it would be a pleasant memory. On top of all the crazy fun plans I had, one of the students wins a pizza and ice cream party with a DJ from 99.9. In the morning we would do owl pellet dissection and then have the pizza party, only to get ready for a special afternoon:
Evans has been like a family to me, therefore I wanted to present a gift to the school and kiddos that mean so much to me. 4 Aspen trees, because 4 is my favorite number, 1 pine tree because Christmas is my favorite season, and two vines for our garden to eventually cover up the chain-link fence. So during my morning plan time I rushed to the garden center, they were already prepared, and my niece and I loaded 6 giant plants in my way too small 99 Tahoe.
Rushing back to make it to pick up my students from enrichment classes, I get a text that the radio postponed the party- the students would be so sad and disappointed...with minutes left, I went on the website and ordered dominoes and soda- while this incredible mom also tried to make up for it. Not only did she offer to pay for the pizza, she then told our ‘sad story’ to Dairy Queen and got us free ice cream. The kids were thrilled.
In the afternoon we planted. What an absolutely amazing experience! The smiles and sweat on their faces and the pride they showed when we finished was priceless! I think it will change their relation to nature forever. After a much too short goodbye, the weekend came and my students went off to fend without me.
This would have been the perfect memory to keep and leave with, unfortunately, humans are not that simple and uncomplicated and things change.
After just a couple days, I heard from colleagues that one of our administrators (who by the way is not trained in Movement Method and did not really show an interest in what we were doing or why), decided to change my former classroom back into a traditional class. This was not done gradually and with careful consideration of how it might affect students but in a panic mode and hours, making not only the students suffer, but my former colleagues as well, being stressed out and interrupted in their teaching over the urgency presented. I could not believe what I heard and the way it was done. Parents reached out devastated by the changes. A major concern during conferences was to keep the method going- oh, but wait, leadership would not know that since they had not been communicating with me for a while.
I felt pretty alone since I made the decision to leave and who can blame them- it does feel like a break-up and very bad timing, leaving a school and class hanging; I would be upset as well. But always having the best interest of the students in mind should be our number one priority, and it would have helped to sit down and plan together. So I did what I could, but the decisions now are certainly going to backfire.
Yes, I am quite sad and disappointed that years of working extra hours, being on committees to support growth, giving up free time, trying the very best I had to offer to help students and Evans grow seemed to count for not much in personal relationships. But that is o.k. What made me angry was that my students now have to suffer- and I did put that on me, but to be honest, it is not all on me. I had things in place where they could have succeeded. I had plans where the class with support could have smoothly transitioned. If there would have been more understanding of the method we are using, they would have understood and could have continued to succeed. But for folks who are not trained, they do not get it and suffering in education becomes acceptable- because it has always been that way.
Where do we go from here- I have no idea. How do you heal such hurt and experience? I still remember my first-grade teacher leaving in the middle of the year because she got pregnant without being married, so the catholic school kicked her out, she was one of the best, and the pain is still there. My plan is to write to each student. While I am on all of my trips, I want to make sure I write a letter to each and everyone in that class to make them understand that I did not walk out on them and the special skills and characteristics they have are a reason to celebrate.
We had an inside joke about Japanese good luck kittens- they will all receive one with their letter.
I loved those kids- I love teaching but this was difficult and made me even more aware of how spreading this type of education is more essential than we realize.