Don't get me wrong... the workload, the endless University forms, the sleepless nights, the nerves of being observed when teaching lessons, the days where I was so busy I didn't get to eat anything until 3:30 in the afternoon...that I'm not going to miss. But those 31 beautiful smiling faces, my little kiddies who I've grown to absolutely adore, I will miss them....A LOT.
Thursday night I spent baking delicious Christmas Spritz cookies for the staff, and a good 2 hours printing out 31 of these "you're a star" certificates (click HERE for that), trimming the edges, gluing them to different colored card paper, writing each child's full name inside the star in gold glitter pen, signing 'Love from, Mrs. Anderson' on the bottom and sticking 5 gold star stickers all around. At the beginning I was feeling ambitious and even contemplated going around the outline of the big star with gold glitter to really snazz it up...but after about the 5th one in I thought 'eff this!' and abandoned that idea. On top of making every child a certificate, I bought them each a small packet of Haribo (little gummy candies that kids LOVE) and they each got a big sparkly Christmas sticker to either wear on their shirt for the rest of the day like a 'superstar' does...or (as most of them did) put on their certificate to keep for a long time.
After lunchtime I ushered all 31 of them into the classroom and promised we'd do something exciting once they'd sat down in their 'special places' quietly. I took the register, and then told them that as this was my last day teaching them I'd brought lots of goodies to say thank-you for being the BEST class I'd ever taught and the class that I'll always remember. You should have seen the smiles on their faces. A little boy named Jack raised his hand and said "The BEST class you've ever taught? Really!?!" to which I answered "the best class I've ever taught!" and it was at this point that loads of hands went up and the questions flooded in..."Mrs. Anderson, when are you coming back?" Me: I'm coming to do your Christmas play with you on Thursday but after that I've got to go to another school to teach a different class..."Why can't you stay here? Can't you just teach our class again?" Me: No sweetheart, I can't stay here because I've got to teach a different year group. My next placement is in a Nursery!..."But that next class won't be your favorite will they?" Me: I promise this class will be my favorite, you're all very special to me and I'll miss you very much..."But aren't you going to come back to visit us?" Me: I promise to try and come back and visit you..."But we don't want you to go!"...and then the tears started. From all directions I had hugs and cuddles from kids galore, some of them sobbing as I hugged them. I very nearly lost it then myself because the realization that I might have made as big of an impact on these children as they had on me finally sunk in. I told them to wipe away those crocodile tears because it makes me sad to see them cry, and I didn't want our last day together to be a sad one...I want it to be very happy.
So at that, I convinced them to go back to their special spots and I began handing out, one at a time, their special certificates, stickers and sweets. I shook the hand of each child that came up and said "Congratulations! You're a star!" in my best fancy announcer voice (which made them giggle) and once they'd been given their award we all gave them a big marshmallow clap (to those of you who don't know what a marshmallow clap is, as I didn't when I first came to the school, it's when you clap without making noise - like you're clapping a big squishy marshmallow...cute, I know, and the kids love it).
After everyone had their special gifts, they put them away in their book bags and I read them my favorite Christmas book as a child: 'The Night Before Christmas' before our class was chosen to go see Santa, who was in school for the day with all of his elves to speak to all of the children (it was the cutest thing ever, they'd decorated one of the small classrooms as the North Pole and Santa sat inside waiting to read the letters from the children or listen to what they wanted for Christmas...it was the highlight of their day). After they'd been to visit Santa, they came back to the classroom and enjoyed their 'Golden Time' or as the kids say 'Friday Friends' which happens every Friday afternoon. It's when each class is given an allocated amount of time to do as they wish (draw, play games, play with legos or playdough, read etc). The children absolutely cherish it and work hard to behave properly throughout the week and finish all of their work so that they're able to participate in it. I was using this time to hang up some concrete poems we'd done in the shape of Christmas trees earlier that day, when I felt a little tap on my side and heard "excuse me Mrs. Anderson I've made something for you." Within the space of 30 minutes I'd received a mountain of pictures/letters from different children in my class who had used their special Friday Friends time to make me a going away present, and with every one I had to stop myself from crying as I gave them a thank-you hug.
Then came the end of the day when Mr. Robinson (my school-based mentor, and the class teacher) walked into the class with a card and said that I had to open it in front of everyone before it was home time. The kids all sat with big smiles looking at me while I opened the envelope and I felt my face go red as I knew this was probably going to be the moment where I wasn't able to hold back the tears any longer. Inside the envelope was a card which read 'Good Luck!' on the front and had the signature of every single child inside. As well as that, there was a pack of bookmarks to remember them by and use in the next book I read to a class instead of folding down the corner of the pages as I'd done when reading them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Although I was laughing at the bookmark gift (I'd been picked on numerous times for abusing my book as I folding down the corners at my stopping place) I had tears streaming down my face and I could barely choked out 'Thank you, that's a lovely card and present.' Mr. Robinson was smiling and Mrs. Harvey (the TA which I'd joked around with and enjoyed girly chats with in the mornings) was giggling as she wiped her eyes. It was a lovely sentiment and I'll always keep that card, always remember every single child, and always remember the moment when I got my first card from the first class I taught.
As the children walked outside to meet their parents they all yelled 'Goodbye Mrs. Anderson, we'll miss you!" in unison and each child hugged me on the way out the door. 3 little girls stood crying with their Mom's, who I promised I'd see again on Thursday for their play, and hugged one last time.
Yesterday I walked out of the front door of the school with a smile on my face, my bag full of gifts, cards and pictures, and my heart full of love. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to teach such brilliant little kids and I'll miss them all so much. What an amazing experience this has been, I can't wait to begin the next :)
Thanks for reading guys!
Take good care,