My first thought when I met my first grade class at Korrnell was “THEY. ARE. ADORABLE.” Fresh, little, Taiwanese, pumpkin babies on their first day of elementary school. Absolutely precious. My co-teacher soon corrected me.
“You’ll get over it.”
She was right. Disciplining, having to be tough, and dealing with kids pooping their pants and throwing their shoe at my head quickly caused their cuteness to fade. It was work getting them to not only respect me, but like me, and understand my expectations. You may say a teacher shouldn’t worry about their students liking them, but I do. I am teaching because I genuinely like kids. I think they are hilarious, inspirational in their creativity, and are on this Earth to remind us of what we once were and should still be. I enjoy being their friend, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make them cry when they talk too much in my class.
I’ve now taught these same students through first and second grade. It is the most time I have ever spent with the same children. I see them Monday-Friday, for at least 3-5 hours a day. We’ve become very close. We have inside jokes and many things that have bonded us as a class. We’ve dealt with students leaving us, fights between students, and many, many tears over bad exam scores. We’ve won soccer games, put on dance performances, learned how to trick or treat, made cards for the people effected by the earthquake in Nepal, and put on a presentation all about California. They still remember all the words to “California Dreaming.”
They are absolute geniuses. Not only are they bilingual, but they know so much more about the world than I did at their age. I so badly wish I could see where they end up in the future because there are a few ones I think could rule the world.
I haven’t told them I will be leaving yet. I don’t know how to. Possibly, they won’t care all that much and that will crush me or they will ask me “why” and that will crush me even more.
Crying will be inevitable and I can’t promise I won’t do it in front of them when I have to say goodbye. I honestly never thought I could love a group of kids as much as I love Class 203. They’ve made my experience in Taiwan and I hope I’ve had a positive impact on them as well.
God help the next class I get because they’ve got a hell of a lot to live up to.