Sometimes change happens slowly. So slowly you don't even notice it. Like the way children learn and grow when you see them every day. You're not sure when it happens, but all of a sudden the class that used to fit comfortably around the rug in a circle no longer fits - resulting in less personal space and more bumps and bothers.
Living in a small community, I watch my students grow and change in all manner of ways long after they leave my classroom. And sometimes I am lucky enough to have one of them connect with me in the form of a letter, a stop at my classroom, a graduation invitation. The change is more drastic then, but I can always see the smile of their 5 year old self. Yesterday, I ran into a former student who just graduated. He walked right up and without hesitation gave me a great big hug. Bo was proud and excited to tell me, his Kindergarten teacher, about his plans for next year. Big changes for him, chosen by him.
Sometimes change happens in an instant. On Tuesday one of those former students was killed in a car accident. A beautiful, feisty, red headed girl who left a mark everywhere she went. Emma was the child who (when you turned around to check the line of students going down the hall) was joyfully doing cartwheels. She was friends with the toughest child in the class, the one no one else wanted to play with. Emma would have been a Senior this year. Her absence will leave a gaping hole at her church, the school, our community, the future. The grieving and healing for our community will be slow.
Emma's death brings about a change of perspective and a clarity of priorities. We talk about how the joy and fun of teaching is in danger. I know teaching is now a job filled with specific outcomes, paperwork, accountability, core curriculum, new tools and technology, testing, and more. But that is not why I do this job. I teach children. I touch little lives that will change our future. Without the joy, the play, the hugs, the sharing, the connections, and even the losses, what would be the point?
Kinderblog13 - Assignment: Change