open to it, we can establish wonderful relationships with the students that we teach and coach. Those of us who are extremely fortunate, get to observe wondrous student growth throughout their entire middle school tenure. The key to taking in these wonderful moments, is to allow our students to get a glimpse of the special things that occur in our lives as well. This helps to create a mutual respect and trust and ultimately helps bring cohesion to the relationships.
This year provided me with a unique opportunity, as I was able to witness the culmination of a journey that I essentially watched begin just two years ago. I moved from the sixth to the eighth grade and was given the rare chance to work with students for a second time. Throughout the course of the year students shared personal experiences and were always eager to learn of the events that were shaping my life. There were athletic championships and the birth of siblings and various types of celebrations observed. We endured a month full of nor'easters in March and swapped war stories about power failures. We supported each other when we faced personal challenges and we celebrated our personal triumphs.
Academically, as the year unfolded the conversations became richer, as student passions and attitudes became more transparent. The quality of the work went from superficial to significant, as expectations took root and students began to embrace them. Students were achieving academically and extracurricularly with consistency and were obviously proud of their accomplishments. Their growth was a source of great joy and I feel privileged to have had a front row seat.
The other day my students completed an ELA writing activity that was designed to show gratitude to their teachers for their efforts. The depth of feelings and the thoughtful comments that were shared with me reflected that indeed our meaningful relationship had made a difference in their middle school development. I grew quite emotional as I read each one, proud not just for the impact made, but also for contributing to their confidence in creating and sharing their notes of appreciation.
The roles then switched from reader to writer just a few days ago. The end of the year brought the issuing of yearbooks and the opportunity to sign those belonging to our students. This was my opportunity to thank them for all they contributed, to show gratitude for their attitude and energy and to compliment them on their growth during their middle school years. Moreover, it was a chance to wish them well and send them off confidently, as they took the next step on their educational journey. These "signature moments "would not have been possible or as celebrated had we not forged relationships, some beginning this year and some beginning two years ago.
As I watched students depart today, some joyful and some sad, I was grateful for the opportunity that the year brought to build and solidify meaningful relationships with my students. Over the next 11 weeks I will reflect and recharge but most importantly I will prepare to develop new relationships with the next group of students that will be placed in my care. I can only imagine the experience that awaits. Sign me up!