This morning I walked down the gravel pathway to school juggling my coffee, teacher bags, workout clothes, keys and lunch. It’s a ritual I’ve performed for 162 days, and again I clumsily opened the door - managing to spill only a few drops from my coffee cup on the white shirt I was wearing.
I stood inside the door re-assembling myself and glanced down the primary hallway. I suddenly realized that in a few short weeks I would have to say goodbye to the all the children that I’ve fallen in love with this year. Sure, I might have had to yell a tiny bit this year, might have gone home with several headaches and used my “think about it chair” more than once, but I reminded the children that a teacher’s “lectures” are exactly like the ones they receive from their parents; we can yell and love at the same time.
I gathered the children on the carpet for morning meeting and as usual, our discussion veered severely off course and we started talking about the group of children who would be coming into the classroom next year. I asked the children if they had any advice to offer them. After I reminded them for the one thousandth time that I couldn’t listen to 19 voices at once, here’s the important advice the kids had to offer.
Gavin – “You never hurt anybody.”
Abby – “Be sure to always turn off the water.”
Channing – “Yeah, be sure to turn off the faucet because if you don’t it will make a HOT mess!”
Jack – “Never put too many paper towels into the toilet cause then Mr. G. will have to take them out with gloves.”
Sally – “Don’t throw a fit and hit your friend cause then you will get in big, big trouble.”
Tino – “Always flush.”
Parker – “Never break the glasses that you need to see with.”
Emma – “When you fall off the monkey bars, you get right back on. Even though I can’t DO the monkey bars.”
Sasha – “Never play tag in your house.”
Bella – “Do NOT climb on the counter by the window to look outside when you think the teacher is not in the room. “
Ditta – “When the teacher says to do something, you just have to do it.”
Tino – “Oh, and never climb up the rock wall and then break your femur.”
Connor – “Always use soap. Oh, and always, always be good and nice to each udder.”
At the end of the day I watched as they chatted happily with each other on their way out the door. I glanced around the room for stragglers when Sasha came running back into the classroom. “Mrs. Smythe! Can I have my hug?” she asked quickly.
I hugged her, grabbed her hand and we made our way quickly to her bus. Sure, we have many rituals in school, but the ones I will miss the most are the ones that remind the children that even though we might use a firm hand when guiding them along the way, we still end the day with a little bit of love.