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Monday, June 24, 2013

End of the school year

Have  I mentioned anywhere on this blog that my day job is being a grade 6 teacher in a small francophone village in the Outaouais in Quebec? I teach all subjects except art and phys. ed. in French which is the first language here. I've always wrestled with my own linguistic identity, but that's another blog post.

The last day of school was Friday and I officially said goodbye to 16 awesome kids who, for the most part, have spent 7 years in our school, the last 2 being in my classroom. The poor babies. With similar mixed emotions as when I raise monarchs from eggs and caterpillars and must release them for their 4000 kilometer trek down to Mexico in the fall, I must let these chickies to fly off to high school.

I've been silently grieving their departure since early spring. I go through this grieving process every year but I've found that every 7 or 8 years, I get a group of kids whose personalities combine to make a wholesome and creative dynamic within the confines of the classroom which in turn, allows us to break down the walls of our confinement and soar beyond. These kids were curious, eloquent, many were well-read, some were well-traveled, and if not, at least willing to open themselves to new ideas and possibilities. Now, what could any teacher wish for beyond that?

I used my discipline system once or twice for a couple of March when we were all getting tired and needed a break. Besides that, the kids basically managed themselves. Any conflicts were resolved in cooperative meetings on Fridays.

I figure that I will retire in 8 or 9 years. I might get another similar cohort before then. If not, well, that's fine, too. I have found that while some years have been tougher to get through, I come out at the other end stronger and having learned how to deal with each child with more compassion. I find myself mellowing with each year. I no longer entertain battles of wills. Adults are often on the losing end with kids and when we do win, it can be at the expense of someone's ego. I don't want to chip away at anyone's self-esteem. Heaven forbid that I should do or say something that would hurt one of my charges.

As I wrap up report cards and face long lazy days to rejuvenate, I am thankful for this school year and eagerly await the next bunch of kids who will teach me a lot more than I have to teach them. 

I am most fortunate to live in a tiny village of 978 souls. I get to see many of my students grow up, go off to study, find jobs that they love, and sometimes come back to start families of their own.

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