Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm Torn And It's Tearing Me Apart

Being a teacher is hard. Hard. Difficult. Difícil.

I'm not talking about the content. I'm really awesome at adjectives and my rendition of the alphabet is on point. I can properly punctuate a sentence with the best of them. But I am in charge of shaping young minds. Young minds that are going to grow into doctors, teachers, lawyers, professionals.

And they've been given to ME.

The content lessons are easy. Pinterest has lots of activities to make learning blends memorable or games to aide in letter sound acquisition. The character building, the tending to their precious hearts, is the hard part.

We've tackled bullying, we've fought against tattling, we've explored how to express our anger in a positive way. These past few weeks we've been working through something I had never expected-- how to express our emotions when we don't possess the language nor do we completely understand what is happening.

I leave this country in 34 short days. But our last day of school is on FRIDAY. Friday. As in, three days from now. In three days, I have to say good-bye to the 45 smiling faces who have weaseled their way into my hearts and refuse to let go.

This is challenging enough for me as a 23 year old adult who can grasp what is happening and who made this decision. It's exponentially harder for those 45 smiling faces.

They understand that something is happening. They understand that Miss Caitlin is going back to the United States.

But that's about where their understanding stops.And that's about all they can express. They don't have the language to delve deeper into their feelings nor can they really even comprehend why they're feeling the way that they do.

But they're hurting. I'm hurting. And I'm hurting even more when I watch them hurting. My heart breaks to know that they're feeling this way and that I'm the one who has caused it. We've been doing devotionals throughout the year and this time of hurting has provided us with many opportunities to talk about how sometimes God calls people to do things that they don't want to do and hurts their hearts, but God always knows what is best for them. Jonah was called to Ninevah, Miss Caitlin is called out of Honduras.

Grade Two and I have been together since day one. Together we've been to hell and back. I'm not kidding. They're tough and I'm stubborn. We've seen the worst of each other and we've seen the best of each other. There's 23 kids in that class and each one of them has an incredibly vibrant personality. Each one of them craves personal attention ALL THE TIME. The boys in Grade Two are ALL boy. 100% boy. They live and breathe sports and interact with each other using violence. It's not uncommon to have at least two boys fist fighting on the floor. And that's normal.

Out of all the things that Grade Two and I have done together, we have NEVER taken a good class picture. Someone is always moving, someone is always pouting, someone is always missing, someone is always blocking someone else's face. For whatever reason, taking pictures with Grade Two is like pulling teeth.

But today Grade Two and I took a class picture and I was almost moved to tears. Sarah came in to take a picture with the students and then Tony and I stepped in to take a class picture. In Sarah's picture the kids were in one long line with a couple jolly students sitting in front-- more like what you would expect a typical class picture to look like. The second Tony and I stepped in, they climbed on top of us. Every single kid wanted to be by Miss Caitlin and Mr. Tony. Some of them didn't surprise me. The fact that they girls wanted to hug us was no shocker. But two of my BOYS wanted to be next to me. Two of the boys who haven't shown much interest in Miss Caitlin. Ever. And then after taking our picture, they each gave me a hug. Before they realized that they were boys and hugging the teacher isn't cool and went right back to punching each other.

Their precious, tender hearts. After all this time together and I'm still surprised at the things they say and do.

Being a teacher is hard. Character building has been hard-- on all of us. But it's been worth it. Getting glimpses into their precious, tender hearts is so worth it. They've grown, I've grown, we've grown together.

In the same way we've gone through hell and back together, we'll get through this difficult season of good-byes and transitions together. We'll all come out stronger on the other side.

And just to lighten up a pretty heavy post, here are all the class pictures that Grade Two and I have taken together over the past two years. Crazy, hectic photos. Precious, wonderful memories.

While they were in Grade 1-- ice cream party
While they were in Grade 1-- with Mr. Carl
While they were in Grade 1-- the Science Fair
While they were in Grade 1-- One Day Without Shoes
Now that they're in Grade 2-- supporting La H
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Cultural Day
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Thanksgiving
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Christmas
Now that they're in Grade 2-- with Mr. Carl
Now that they're in Grade 2-- February 27th
Now that they're in Grade 2-- the 100th Day of School
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Language Coffeehouse
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Mini-Olympics
Now that they're in Grade 2-- Mini-Olympics
Now that they're in Grade 2-- One Day Without Shoes
Now that they're in Grade 2-- their official school picture
Now that they're in Grade 2-- the picture that nearly broke my heart
Being a teacher is hard. Hard. Difficult. Difícil. Being a teacher is worth it. Worth it. Vale la pena.

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