One student, in particular, is giving me a really hard time. This student has been giving me a hard time all year, but I was starting to feel like we had made some progress. I have worked so hard to get through to him, and it felt like we were finally starting to build a good relationship-he might even like me a little. Then Monday happened. He came in angry, and I thought he's having a hard time. Tomorrow will be better. It wasn't.
He asked to go to the bathroom and while he was gone a student said to me, "I think I know why --- is giving you such a hard time."
I just looked at him curiously, and he went on to explain that students sometimes have a hard time leaving a teacher at the end of the year. He said they get sad because they're not going to see you anymore, but if they are mean to you, it doesn't feel so bad to leave.
I thought about what he said for the rest of the day. What he described reminded me of the way people sometimes behave when they know a relationship is ending. I don't know why this never occurred to me before. I preach and preach about the importance of relationships! How did it never register that the end of the year might feel like the end of a relationship for a lot of students?
Now I am feeling super bad about how frustrated I have been with all of this fun student behavior I have been dealing with in my classroom lately. I've let the stress of trying to "finish" add to that frustration and have been a pretty grumpy teacher this week. This is not how I want to be remembered. I am so thankful that this eleven-year-old kid had this insight and the courage to share it with me. It has completely changed the way I look at the end of the year. Kindness and empathy are far more important than getting enough lessons done. Today I learned the lesson.