Wednesday – Last Day in the Classroom
All four periods requested to throw a going-away party. I can take that as a sweet sentiment after I’ve made a difference in their lives all year…or a bunch of middle-schoolers lunging at any opportunity to have soda in class.
It’s probably about 30-70.
We packed up my personal effects, snacked on Hot Cheetos for 50 minutes, cleaned up for 3 minutes, then I told them this:
“In cultures, when people are leaving to do new things, usually they are given a blessing or a commission. As my 8th graders promote to high school, usually I give a blessing, but I am leaving early, so we’re doing it today. Some cultures place hands on the shoulders of the person who’s leaving, but there are too many of you, so I’ll just do this:”
I hold my hands out over them, palms down.
“May you be passionate problem-solvers and curious critics. May you be loyal to your friends, obedient to people in charge, friendly to strangers, and kind to those in need. May you be safe, healthy, loved, and happy, and may you become more of those every day. May you every day become a better version of yourself. You have 54 days left of 8th grade. Make them count.”
Bell rings. Out they go. I turn in my keys and leave.
Tuesday – Two Days Left in the Classroom
Vaudrey: You know how sometimes I’m silly and tell jokes? This isn’t one of those times. What I’m about to tell you isn’t a joke.
Nathan: Are you dying?
Jane: Are we in trouble?
Angel: He’s totally dying.
Diane: Just shut up and listen to him!
Vaudrey: You will have a sub on Thursday and Friday; you already knew that. And when you come back from Spring Break, you will have a different math teacher. Tomorrow is my last day here with you.
Class: What? Why?
Vaudrey: Those meetings I had at the District were job interviews. I’m going to be a Teacher Coach. I’ll take ideas from what our class does and go show other classes how to do it.
Noah: Wow. This sucks.
Diana: No! You’re the reason I get excited about learning!
Marie starts crying.
Ashley: Can I have your Justin Bieber Picture?
Alex: Can I have your Mr. Vaudrey sign?
Asia: You should give us something because we’re your favorite class.
Andy: Do you get paid more money?
Laura: What kind of cake do you like?
Mando: Does your wife know about this?
Vaudrey: Yeah, she’s okay with it.
Victor: Of course she is; she’s not getting her heart broken!
Vaudrey: Please keep it quiet until the end of the day, so I can tell each class personally. I want them to hear it from me.
Linda: [Red-faced and tears in her eyes] What if I can’t learn from the new teacher?
Monday – Three Days Left in the Classroom
“Did you get the joab?” Asked Ms. Zipper–my RSP Aide for 5th period–her distinct Brooklyn accent apparent in her enthusiasm.
“Yeah, I did.” I gave a pained grin. “It’s bittersweet; I don’t want to leave my students mid-year.”
“Oh!” She stammered. “When do you start?”
“The Monday after break. My last day is Wednesday.”
“This Wednesday?” Asked Zipper, her eyebrows raising and head tilting in a distinct New England mannerism. “Yoah kids are gonna lose it.”
Friday – Four Days Left in the Classroom
My phone rings as I’m grading our benchmarks in the teacher’s lounge. It’s Bobbi from district H.R., offering me a position as Professional Development Specialist. She says I start Monday, April 7th.
April 7th is the first day back from our 2-week Spring Break, which starts Friday.
Plus the CUE Conference is this Thursday-Saturday.
I gulped, realizing that I had three more days with my students to tell them, pack up my class, and leave.
~Matt “Change Hurts” Vaudrey
*That was the humblest way I could explain what a Professional Development Specialist does, without making it sound like I’m ditching them.