It’s that time of year when my kids are ready to be out of school and so am I. I’m excited and sad at the same time. That explains the tears in my eyes as I say goodbye to my 5th graders. One of them hugs longer than the rest as he tells me in his beautiful Indian accent, “I’m not letting go. You’ll just have to take me with you.”
As teachers, we spend more waking hours with our students than with our own children and families. And our students spend more quality time with us than their parents. So it’s natural for this time of year to feel bittersweet.
I used to focus on an “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” lesson at the beginning of the year. Written by Dr. Seuss in 1960, it focuses on the journey of life and its challenges. But this gem doesn’t belong at the beginning of a school year, it’s much better as the school year ends and they embark on their own journeys.
I use bits and pieces of it to inspire and engage the students to keep them focused but also keep up the rigor necessary at the end of the year.
One particular line speaks to me as I teach my classroom children to make the “right” choices and not the “easy” choices. The narrator warns the journeying child, “You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.”
I’ve started asking my students, “What are some streets that are not marked?” and “What are darked windows?” I’m happy that they almost always understand this means their path is not known and some choices are the wrong choices.
I coach them as we read the text, “What are some ways you know you’re making the right choice?” They brainstorm ideas about what feels right in their heart and in their gut. I hope these are tools they remember to take with them.
I won’t be with them as they learn that “Life’s a great balancing act,” as Seuss says. I hope that my challenging questions and consistent nurturing throughout the year has helped them grow all the tools they will need. They’ll succeed 98 ¾% guaranteed!