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Endings and Beginnings

[Editor’s note: Miss Brave is a third-year elementary school teacher in Queens in her first year as a classroom teacher. She blogs at miss brave teaches nyc, where this post originally appeared.]

I had a truly fantastic birthday at school. First and foremost, Julio’s mother gave me the greatest birthday gift of all by not sending Julio — my biggest problem student, a 2nd-grader prone to epic meltdowns and all manner of out-of-control behavior — to school on my birthday. As a result, it was a blessedly relaxing day, and I was genuinely touched by the gifts and the love my students gave me.

Of course, just when you’re least expecting it, the poop will hit the fan. When I arrived in the morning on our Brooklyn-Queens professional development day, I wasn’t expecting to find next year’s organization sheet in my mailbox … but it was there. With my heart pounding, I quickly scanned all the names of next year’s 2nd-grade teachers.

And my name … wasn’t among them. Apparently, my students aren’t the only ones moving to 3rd grade next year!

I wasn’t thrilled. I did not want to change grades, I did not want to move into a testing grade, I did not want to deal with this year’s 2nd-graders again, I did not want beginning English language learners, and I did not want to change rooms. And now: I’m changing grades, I’m moving into a testing grade, I have to deal with this year’s 2nd-graders again, I’m going to have beginning ELLs, and I have to change rooms.

After the shock wore off, I consoled myself with some of the advantages. I will get push-in Academic Intervention Services support for math and reading and push-in English-as-a-second-language support for my ELLs, none of which I had this year. My new room is lovely and has much less bulletin board space (which translates into less wrestling with backing paper and standing on my tiptoes on tables trying to reach the top). And because we didn’t do our articulation of classes until today, I was able to place eight of my favorite students in my 3rd-grade class.

After dismissal, I went to see Arianna, one of my chosen eight, in her after-school program. Last year, Arianna was in my reading group, and when she was held over in 2nd grade, I was happy to have her in my class. She’s a lovely, sweet, earnest girl who isn’t getting a lot of support at home and sometimes seems a little lost.

Last year, Arianna’s 2nd-grade teacher lent her Amelia’s Notebook, a book that purports to be the notebook of a young girl who loves to doodle and record her ideas. Arianna kept the book for months. When she finally returned it, I caught a glimpse of Arianna’s own notebook. She had copied the pages of Amelia’s Notebook — copied them! — so that she would be able to save it for herself.

Ever since then, I’ve been telling myself that I had to get that girl her own copy of Amelia’s Notebook. So today, after school, I presented Arianna with her own copies of Amelia’s Boredom Survival Guide and Amelia’s School Survival Guide. She gasped, then threw her arms around me and exclaimed, “Miss Brave, you’re the best teacher ever!”

And at that moment, seeing how completely thrilled she was, knowing that she would treasure those books all summer long and that she would be coming with me to 3rd grade … I kind of felt like it.

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