Written January 1, 2011
I’m at a New Years Eve party. It’s a little past midnight, which means it is now 2011. All I can do is think about that for which I am truly thankful. Thoughts of gratitude are common this time of year, but for me, right now, I’m thinking about my students, all of them; it’s been an amazing year.
Last night, around midnight, I received a text message. Two of my former graduates lost their mom in a car accident. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, whatever your feelings are towards this time of year, news like that sinks home. Two of my boys lost their mom. Tonight is their second night without their mom. I can barely breathe.
Throughout this year I’ve blogged a wee bit; I’ve lurked loads, enjoying many posts by other wonderful educators. However, nothing comes close to the life-changes my boys are learning now. No social action project, no project-based learning, nothing I’ve done that is student directed; nothing will compare with the changes that 11 p.m. last night dealt to my boys. Think about it. Really think about it. They just had their last Christmas with their mom. This is their first New Years without her. She will never hold her grand babies. Though they may not think about the grandbabies now, I am thinking about them, and in ten years, they will too. They will. And nothing will compare with the changes that occurred last night. “Ms. Saas, he’s tough, but I don’t know why this happened to him?”
Nothing will compare with the changes that always come from connecting and that come from loving.
I write tonight because in the last 18 months I’ve taught at four schools. For clarification, I’ve connected and loved kids at four schools. At the first three schools in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be at them long-term, but the goodbyes were still difficult. The hardest goodbyes were hardest at the third school after I accepted a continuous contract and moved from a bit west of the city to a bit east of the city. I really had to hug-so-long. I thought my heart was ripped from me. I’ve heard other educators reflect, saying that when we meet students at the beginning of the year they are names on a page and when we say goodbye we feel like we’ve given birth to them. But connecting and loving our students is so much more than that too.
I remember a poem one student wrote, the image of her and her classmates with their hands outstretched not understanding the sense of leaving. As educators we often spend time fussing about the tools we might or might not use to stay connected with our kids. I wonder if we forget that connecting is the prerequisite to loving?
If I loved my kids when I said good bye, then let me tell you this – I sure as heck still love them now, as well. When I received a text late last night, I opened it and I replied. And for the first time in my teaching career, I sent a kid a text message at 11:30 p.m.
So tonight, New Years Eve, I’m thinking about the boys who just lost their mom, and I’m thinking about my kids. I’m thinking that I’m the luckiest mom-educator-learner in the world. The kids from my other schools will never be students from the past. They are ever present. Thank goodness for staying connected. Thank goodness for being connected. And thank goodness for the amazing, breath-of-fresh-air student connections NOW, in the classroom-community-family I hang out with everyday. Does this happen to teachers over and over and over and over again? I imagine.
So tonight, I’m thinking about all my kids, the one I have given birth to, the ones I’ve taught, the ones I teach, and about all the things we strive to understand. I’m thinking about how nothing will compare with the changes that come from loving.