In April, administrators have their feet in two worlds: the tail end of one school year and the beginning of another. It’s the month when the goal of the last several weeks of school is to ensure everyone, including students, teachers, and families, get what they need. It’s the month when angry “this has been going on all year” rings like church bells every hour, and a moment later, a flood of “thank you for what you’ve done; you’ve made a difference” happens. It’s a month of mixed feelings: frustration and hope, sadness and excitement. May is one of my favorite months, but also the busiest, thinking about two school years at once, moving from task to task, while taking time away from box-checking for important things like spring events, continuation and graduation ceremonies, and seeing graduates who have grown up into actual adults.
Some of my kids and their friends are graduating high school in a few weeks (one technically graduated in December), headed off to college and other adventures, beginning the next part of their lives. They grow up so quickly, a friend noted while sharing photos of some of our shared kids this week. It was just yesterday that one was sitting beside me on the floor of my classroom painting the “low parts” in the corner nearest the exterior door, the wall that would eventually become our tech corner. Two sat at a table sobbing over a book, asking if it was ok that they cry–they just identified with the characters so much. Another joined our classroom and had a gaggle of friends within seconds–many of those friendships are still strong now.
One of my favorite pictures is of this group of kids: a silhouette of several sitting together along the back of my classroom couch in front of our huge windows, looking outside as the snow was falling one afternoon. They were among the most cohesive groups of kids I’ve ever taught. They were kind to one another, supported each other, were empathetic and inclusive to anyone new. They were the first group I taught who learned to self-advocate, and who showed me that not all teachers are as accepting of that self-advocacy…shooting down what I felt were reasonable requests before they’d even finished sharing their reasoning. They’re the group who, even at 10, had huge plans for their lives. They planned to become writers, activists, doctors, firefighters and military members, attorneys, teachers, composers, engineers…and anything else they can imagine because they have their whole lives to do whatever brings them joy.
My friend gave me the graduation announcement for her boy, who has somehow transformed into an actual dude…a guy…complete with that facial hair nonsense (“I just shaved yesterday!”) and a wingspan that rivals Michael Phelps. I seriously cried. In my mind, he’s four going on five, barely hip high…and thankfully, he has retained the kindness, curiosity, and empathy of that little one who helped me paint my classroom so long ago.
My two worlds right now are more than just this school year and next. My mind remembers these young ones whose curiosity about the world brought such joy to my day and who helped me become a reasonably good teacher, embracing my own curiosity, as well as my mistakes and opportunities for growth because they needed to see that those things still happen when you’re a grown-up. And my heart is so full of love and pride for these kids and hope for their futures.
I hope that their lives are full of happiness and joy and that they do things in their lives that are meaningful to them, even if some of it is difficult.
I hope that they go off and do good in the world. Good doesn’t have to be big…it can be as simple as showing kindness and empathy when they can, demonstrating integrity and honesty in their interactions with others.
I hope that they find a sense of accomplishment in what they choose to spend their time doing. I hope they know that they’re so very much enough, and not ever “too much” of anything. I hope they surround themselves with good humans who make their lives better by simply existing. I hope that they share the beautiful people they are with the world…it needs more of them.
Go off and do good, sweet kidlets. The world is yours.