I'm full of mixed emotions right now. For nine weeks, I've been an intern in first grade. I never in a million years thought that in just nine short weeks, I would fall so head over heels in love with a group of kids. For three years, I've had a "preference" in the grades that I wanted to work in - third or fourth grade. It's so amazing that after such a short time, I could do a complete 180 and be so gung-ho about another grade...especially at the other end of the spectrum.
When I received news of what my first placement was three months ago, I was happy. I wouldn't say I was over the moon excited, but I figured I would do what I had to do, learn what I had to learn, and move on. I've just never really had a connection working in the lower grades - the kids are cute in first grade, but I don't do "cute" very well. First graders don't really have any boundries in regards to personal space - they have no concept of the invasion of it. I was the kind of person that had boundry issues. Not a real "touchy-feely" person. I never really cared for anyone, even kids (except my own), to invade my personal space. That's what I thought, anyway. I'm now a changed person, a convert of sorts...things are happening to me that I never thought would happen.
The big change - I'm so emotional! Yes, me, emotional. It's crazy! All week, I've had to suck up the tears over the silliest of things. I kept thinking "this is the last time that I'll ______ with these kids" and then my eyes start to fill up. Listening to a student read that wouldn't even say two words to me nine weeks ago, and I'm grabbing for the Kleenex. A boy that never really shows any emotion drew me a picture and wrote me a note with the words "I love you Ms. Hill" and that was it - I totally lost it. They have changed me far more than I have changed them. I see their improvements, seen how much they've grown, but the effects that each of those kiddos have had on me is like a Hollywood make-over. I'm hugging them, saying cutesy little things...it's so weird. No more am I the stern, one eyebrow raised, "don't get too close" person I was nine weeks ago...I'm now...urm, well....nice. They love me, and I love them even more.
Tomorrow is a professional development day, so I won't get to see the kids. My last day in the classroom is Tuesday. I know right now that Tuesday is going to be one of the most emotional days I've had in my life. I am writing each one of the kiddos personal letters. My mentor teacher is putting a hold on the regular schedule for Tuesday afternoon, so that the kids and I can have plenty of time to say our goodbyes. I will read the kids their letters, through wet eyes and sniffles, we will share some good times, and then that will be it....placement over, time to move on.
All of this emotion, and I haven't even mentioned my mentor teacher. I don't know where I can even begin. She's amazing. I believe I owe her just as much recognition for me becoming this emotional wreck as I do the kids. The way she teaches, the way she interacts with the kids...it's definitely something I will always strive to mimic, although I never think I'll even come close. On the first day of school I really thought to myself "wow, that's just too much cutesy for one person to handle" because of the way she treats the kids. Using the word "nice" to describe her is the biggest understatement ever. The kids absolutely adore her, and I now know why. I told myself on day one, that I would never be like that...well, eating my words as I type. Her kindness and sweetness is contagious, and you just can't help yourself when you're around her. I will miss her very much. I could talk to her about everything - and did. She is so helpful, honest, positive - and I was truly blessed to be given the opportunity to be in her classroom.
My next placement is second grade. I've had some time to observe my new classroom, I've already learned my new kids' names, and I get along really well with my new mentor. I'm looking forward to the new opportunity, the new environment, and the new learning that I will get from this group of kids. I'm sure in 18 weeks, when the second placement comes to an end, I will be saying the same things about this new group of kids - but for right now, I love my first graders. I don't want to leave them. They were the first group of kids I got to teach on a regular basis - and they will always have a special place in my heart because of it.
I can only hope now that at the end of this year, I will get a job in a Bentonville school. I think it would be absolutely amazing to keep in touch with these kids, watch them grow, and 11 years from now, be able to attend their graduation ceremony.
"Never underestimate the power of children. If I'm feeling down, I know that I can surround myself with the joy that children bring - and life is good. I was born to be a teacher - the kids reinforce this in me every day."
Till next time. ;)