I taught first grade for 15 school days. 15 school days is all it took to get HOOKED on being in the classroom, being in front of kids that [most of the time] wanted to learn, wanted to be in my class and would jump out of their seats when I walked in…only to be reminded that we stay in our seats in Room 3.
I finally compiled pictures of my kiddos, and would love to share our triumphs with you all. My kids gave me sleepless nights, stressful days, and lots of laughs. I want to take all of them to Tulsa with me, yet I know that it is an unfeasible and too-ambitious goal to think like that. I want to share with you the story of Miguel..and the story of my other kids that I will truly never forget. I feel like for the last 6 weeks I’ve only talked about Miguel and not the rest of my kids. I want to share his story because it is so powerful already. He is the reason thus far that I made it to every school day, I went into that classroom with a plan for him, and really wanted him to realize how possible growth was. He is the reason my class was hectic, and at [most] times loud, but in the end I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Here we are on the last day of school together:
A boy that didn’t smile all summer…he finally brought it out. I wish, readers, that I could share with you the heartache of leaving Room 3. I mean, they will forever be my first class, and my biggest loves. These kids changed my life – and I don’t even think they know how impactful their little faces have been.
Miguel really touched me this summer, and after being away from Jorgenson, and after leaving my 24 kids, I realize that not only is it because they were my first class but because I identified with these kids. At the end of the day, we all had a Miguel in our classroom, and we all had a Trinity [who you'll meet later]. We had kids that we wanted to pour knowledge into and we had kids that we wanted to hide under the desks for the rest of the day. Miguel, for me, was all of these. He was the one hiding under the desks. He was the one making sure I didn’t have an easy day – and it was all because HE wasn’t having an easy day either. I found out a week or two after the first day that he wasn’t sleeping at home – he was scared to fall asleep because he slept with so many other kids. It was foggy, getting information from a first grader, but the message was clear – Miguel did not feel safe in his own home. What kills me is how much I failed him. All he needed was structure, a place where he could be safe and learn, and I did not necessarily give him that. I let things slide, I let him know that he was my favorite and I did not want to leave him at the end of the day. I know, going into my Pre-Kindergarten class that I cannot do this. It just does a disservice to the kids that you’re trying to serve. I wonder what will happen to Miguel Camacho in the next few years – will he make it to high school? Will he remember summer school at Sunny-J? Time will tell… so in the meantime, meet my other first-going-to-second-grade love: Ariel.
I actually met Ariel on the first day I was in the classroom. I had to test him on his reading, and he would stop after every sentence to tell me about how his life connected to the story he was reading. Although text-to-self connections is what we wanted to get to, we also need it at certain times – and while I’m timing your reading skills…not the time, Ariel. This boy though, is so full of life. One day, we met our goal of 20 class points and we got to have a dance party. Ariel was the one breakdancing in the background. He’s the life of the party, the life in the classroom. He’s definitely one of those kids that can go far if he’s pushed – the boy was one of the smartest in our classroom. Always getting 100% in reading or math, Ariel constantly challenged me in always wanting more. He was always asking to go to the bathroom ["is it an emergency? you went half an hour ago. sit down."] and he was always waving me over to show me his progress. On the last day of school, Ariel came up to me. I usually don’t accept this behavior – kids aren’t allowed out of their seat unless they raise their hands. But something in his eyes made me stop for a second – he never got out of his seat before this moment. I got down on his level, and his eyes said it all.
“Miss Noodle, this is for you.”
[it was his worksheet.]
“Thank you, Ariel, but I don’t need this – you can keep it and take it home with you!”
“No, Miss Noodle, I want you to have it so you can remember me forever, because I’m going to remember you forever.”
Consider me waterworks. He touched me in so many ways that moment. As he leaned in for that hug around the legs, I couldn’t help but think about the person he will be. Ariel may not remember me forever, but I will remember him. Stay tuned for more cameo’s of my kids.