Today and yesterday were my last days with my fifth graders.
Some of these kids, I’ve worked with for a year or two. Others, we’ve been together for three, four, even five years.
There is so much change that happens over the span of that time. Add our shared experiences living through COVID and its aftermath, and what you have is an incredibly strong, wise, tight-knit group of young folks.
On our last day together, it just so happens that we used the time to finish up our class read-aloud: Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s classic, The Little Prince. It’s one of those texts that I consider to be a “benchmark book,” a story that I like reading at various points in my life as a way to measure how I have grown and changed, a book that speaks to me anew with the wisdom and experience I gather over time.
And reading the book today, it hit me differently. Yes, I’m happy and excited for my fifth-grade students to move on to whatever comes next in their lives, but there is also that theme of letting go. And just like the pilot who will forever look at the stars and hear laughter, so will I be reminded of these amazing humans in ways large and small.
At the end of class, I took a couple of moments to thank the class for the time we spent together, to express my gratitude for the chance to learn with – and from! – them. What could I even say to sum it all up? And then, these words came into my head so naturally, words that will be familiar to those of you who’ve read The Little Prince:
“You tamed me.”
Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers and their weekly Slice of Life Challenge. Check them out!
11 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: On Letting Them Go”
I think so many times that students don’t realize that we learn with them and from them. Part of lifetime learning is knowing that we are changed by every situation we find ourselves in and every person we encounter. It is the joy of learning.
Exactly! I’m not sure my students truly realize how much they’ve shaped me as a person. You’re right. It *is* a joy.
This is a major touchstone text for my husband too. What a beautiful way to close the year. Happy Summer!
Thank you! I’m s-t-i-l-l waiting to fully close out the year (not ’til next Tuesday), but yes. This was a delightful and satisfying way to send the kids off.
I love ending the year with a book that speaks to those bigger feelings and ideas! Sounds like you found the perfect text to close up your year with those amazing kids.
Thanks! Come to think of it, it wasn’t the plan to end the year with The Little Prince, but it just sort of happened that way. That’s how it works when I only get to work with kids at certain times. I actually had to pull them from class one extra time so we could finish!
I’m going to reflect on your idea of a benchmark book, to be reread at various times of your life. I wonder what that book is for me? And I will reread The Little Prince as well.
How fortunate you are to have that depth of relationship with this group of students. As they are to have it with you.
Thanks! As for me, I have several benchmark books: The Giving Tree, Siddhartha, The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlotte’s Web…a whole bunch of texts that change right along with me.
And yes. I’m BEYOND fortunate to work with these students. I won’t let myself forget it!
I swear I felt like I was reading where you were getting ready for the new school year a moment or so ago, and now it’s the end of it. As I adore your creativity with your students. Some parents are tearful on the firs day, some teachers are wistful on the last. Your closing line and image are perfection.
Right? This year has both dragged and flown. Kind of like most years, but this one felt…different. As for me, even in really tough years like this one, I’m always reluctant to let my loveys go. They’re the best part of the job!
What a lovely way to close out the year with your fifth graders. That’s an incredible book. (A related, but yet not related note: When Ari was born Beth bought him some book-related swag. One of them was a onesie with La Petit Prince on it.)
How wonderful that you thanked them for what they’ve taught you too. Kids are always teaching us. They need to know how important that is.