Yikes!- it’s the end of the school year!!!
Did you hear me? IT’S THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR!
The end of the school year… for teachers, THIS is when the year “changes”. When you clean. When you say goodbye. When you really LOOK at your children and realize that they’ve grown, that they can read, that they can multiply, that they’re sitting in their seats. When you shuffle out the masses of papers that have been hiding in your reading corner and you laugh at the misspellings a little misty-eyed, and the little note to you from the little girl in the third row about how much she loves you. And you search your memory just a little about her, because she wasn’t one of the ones that you worried about, focused on and fussed at- every day.
I even feel it as a college professor- Have they learned the skills they need to be able to teach anyone, anywhere, anything? Have I given them the opportunity to fail and then learn from their mistakes? I loved watching that one grow in her understanding of how to talk louder, how to use her “teacher voice”; I loved watching the other one learn how to control her own emotions and frustrations; and that last one… I still worry about her. I hope that she’ll learn how to control a classroom next semester….
So what better day to get up and find baby birds learning to fly on my front door step and in my yard? Every time I walked out, Mama Bird would flap her wings and squawk at me, and flutter… she was a master flutterer. She was trying to lead us away with her antics to leave her babies in peace so that they could learn. We spent the day mostly inside and peeking through the windows, ignoring the babies, but keeping an eye out for cats. No roaming cats were allowed on our block today- none of the neighborhood children would have it.
It reminded me so much of an effective classroom- where all children are focused on their learning and they work together to keep the “meanies” out. Where as a teacher, you know that cats stalk and prey and you try to distract and provide room and peace for your children to learn. Where you KNOW, you really know that given enough time and freedom from panic, and a little bit of a nudge, all of your children will learn to fly.
And I worried about the baby bird today who wasn’t out there fluttering- who looked a little more fledgling than his mates, who did an awful lot of sitting on our driveway waiting for Mama bird to feed him. I did what I could to help him and Mama Bird along, but I don’t have high hopes for him come night fall. Nature can be terribly strict in that “survival of the fittest” thing.
And I thought about how schools cannot be a “survival of the fittest” scenario. As human beings, we have the obligation and free will to choose to help each other. We have to recognize that, as a friend of mine once said, “there is enough success for everyone”. That one child’s mastery of reading at age 6 does not threaten the learning of the 10 year old who is still struggling with letters. That one child’s social success does not threaten the social standing of another.
Schools are supposed to nurture all children. Schools are supposed to be Mama Bird who flutters and demands that all of her children will succeed- that all of her children get the opportunity to learn. That even the fledglings get to learn. That is the job of schools to prepare them for a world where there are lots of cats.
Parents and teachers have similar jobs- our job is to create a place where our birdies can learn to fly- it is not to prepare them to fight the cats or to invite the cats in. Our job is to help them learn to fly on their own to face whatever comes their way.
As parents, we often have a couch or their room, or the guest room left for them to visit- and to come back if things go really bad. Or to stay if things never quite take off. We’re in it for life. Teachers… teachers have to say “Goodbye”- and that is very poignant this time of year. Our chicks are leaving our nests.