One of the best, best, best things about this year is seeing my first class of 5th graders become 7th graders. They all are so tall now! They stride around campus, clapping each other on the back and hurriedly tucking in their shirt as a teacher passes by. Whenever they see me, they smile and say hi, or start up a conversation, filling me in on their lives. Sometimes they even come to visit me in the mornings during breakfast (though they’re not supposed to….)
I made a lot of academic mistakes with this group, but one thing I did “right” was community. I had a morning class and afternoon class, and I focused a lot of our time on investment and community-building. In fact, that investment drove incredible growth in the second semester, and we were able to achieve that elusive 80% mastery / 1.5 years of reading level growth goal, despite my mistakes. I can see the ripple effects to this day. I hear “Ms. P_____, Ms. P______” ringing in my ears as the kids walk around after specials or the 3:15 bell. I used to be a bit intimidated by the 7th & 8th grade students as they walked around, but now I know them. I even have some of their brothers and sisters as my students now.
Now when people ask me how many kids I have, the real answer isn’t 0. It’s not 150, either. It’s 330… all the students I’ve had from day 1, year 1. They’re still “my kids” even if they’re not with me every day. I am so thankful to have the chance to see them grow up.