At the end of our last reading and arts class of the school year, most fourth graders leave my room with a big grin, a few ideas about summer reads, and a healthy dose of impatience for school to end and vacation to begin.
Last Friday was not much different. We spent the hour making summer reading plan game boards, talking about books, and reflecting on the highs and lows of our year together. Class ended five minutes before the end of the school day, and almost everyone was excited about the three day weekend that was about to begin. As my students hurried out the classroom door and back upstairs to their homerooms to gather their belongings and head to dismissal, I picked up a few stray pencils and piled the floor pillows in the corner. I thought about how quickly this year had passed. I smiled, realizing that this year’s fourth graders were as ready as fourth graders always are to be done with lower school. They were itching for lockers and “break,” not “recess.” They were looking forward to middle school.
My thoughts returned to the present as I glanced at a pile of books that needed shelving. “They can wait, ” I may have said aloud. I turned around to see one boy still in the room, taking his time to tuck in his chair and gather his folder and reading response journal. I could tell he wasn’t lingering by accident.
“Everything okay, Burke?” I asked him. He looked up and smiled, walked over to me and said shyly, “Thank you for teaching me.” And then he leaned in and gave me the sweetest hug. A hug without even a hint of I’m-too-cool-for-hugs-because-I’m-about-to-be-a-middle-schooler. The kind of hug that eleven year old boys rarely give their teacher. And then he ducked out of the room.
“You’re welcome,” I called after him. “Thanks for the hug and the thank you.”
A smile, thanks and a hug. Hard to imagine anything better.