I had intended for my next post to be a continuation of my previous post on data collection, but I just couldn't let today be over-looked.
Today was my last day at school, both with students and in general. My resignation was effective today, so I have no workdays, no professional development, nothing left. It has been a really difficult day for me. Not only did I graduate 3 of my students who have been with me since our school opened, but it was also the last day I will work in NC!
Don't get me wrong, I am really excited about my family's move "across the pond", but I am really going to miss my life here. I have taught in my county for 12 years. I have made many friends and I have some incredible colleagues.
I always get emotional on the last day, because in Special Ed., you usually have kids for multiple years and they become almost like your family. I refer to my class as "my kids". They aren't my students, they are my kids. I have personal kids and I have school kids. I teach so much more than reading, writing, math, science and social studies. I teach manners; I potty train; I teach independence; I teach self-expression. Today I got to look back on how we have grown as a class and it amazes me. It amazed and overwhelmed me.
Three times this week, a new staff member commented to me about how well behaved and vocal one of my students was. It has been a gradual progression with this student, so people who have been at our school for a while don't see the change like a new comer does. I have been feeling nostalgic this week, so it really took me aback, because if you knew this student 3 years ago, you never would have thought we would be where we are today. Three years ago, I had bruises ALL over my arms & legs from where she would hit & kick me or from when I would trip over furniture when I attempted to hurdle an object to catch her before she bolted out of the door. She didn't talk and you couldn't get within 5 feet of her without her hissing and lashing out at you. I had to call 911 once when she escaped. She ran so often, the Sheriff's Department provided her with a GPS bracelet! Today, she greeted everyone as they came into class. And today, she also sat in close proximity to others during our Talent Show. I have not only been able to teach with the door open, but we don't have to keep our door alarm set!
Another of my kids who has been with me since the beginning, not only walked down our "aisle" to Pomp & Circumstance, but he wore his cap for the entire ceremony and even let me put 2 medals around his neck. This is a kid, who 3 years ago when we went to Special Olympics, it took 3 of us just to get him from the competition area to the awards podium. When I tried to pin the ribbon on him, he punched me.
One of my students even sang in the Talent Show today! The kid has always been a ham, but he was the kind of kid who was constantly moving, even when he was sitting still. And goodness gracious, if he touched anything, it would bounce on the floor 800 times because he would fumble so bad trying to pick it up and there were times when he would fall down in the process. Today, he stood on stage, swaying to the music (very appropriately) and didn't fumble with the microphone at all! His song was beautiful and I wasn't the only one who cried when he sang!
I have watched this group of kids go from a rag-tag group, to a polite, well-behaved class. Don't get me wrong, we certainly still have our moments, but today was wonderful. Compared to other days this year, it wasn't much different, but compared to days that first year...WOW! We sure have come a long way!
I am mentally and physically drained from the emotional roller coaster I have been on this week, but especially from today. When I was finally ready to leave today and my room was bare, I must have stood in the doorway for 5 minutes having one of those movie moments. The one, where the past flashes before your eyes and you remember exactly where a certain person was at a certain moment in time. I won't even teach in room 1407 again and I cried for a little while. I could go on crying, but I know that I have left my kids with great skills that will help them in the future. Although, that gets me crying for a whole other reason...