My senior year of college I had a job as a reading tutor at an elementary school. (and for those of you thinking I chose the wrong major . . . yeah, no.) I enjoyed it, although I don't know if I would call it fun, unlike my job now. I was thinking the other day - I worked with kids from kindergarten to fourth grade and it was enough years ago that I need two hands to count them. This year . . . the kindergartners are in sixth grade. As in - older than the oldest kids in the school I'm at now. The fourth graders? Finishing up their sophomore year of high school. Ho. Ly. Crap. How did that happen?
I wonder from time to time if they remember me. I only saw each of them for about half an hour a couple of times a week, so it was a much more . . . professional isn't quite the word but it;s the best I can think of . . . relationship. As opposed to the fun, silly, relationship I have with a lot of the kids now. I try to be fit the "friend" label at the same time as the "teacher" one. The good cop to the official teacher's bad cop (not that any of the teachers I work with are "bad cops" . . . but in a "if I have to send you to them because you just won't listen to me you know you'll be in soooooooooooooo much trouble" sort of way). Anyway. I really wonder where those first kids I worked with are. If they remember me, even vaguely.
My senior year of high school our band and orchestra went on a short "tour" to Idaho Falls. It will be immediately obvious to any family reading that my mom was pretty much in charge of the whole trip - mostly because she was, I believe, president of the booster club at the time, and that was mostly because only, like, three other parents showed up to the meeting to restart the booster club. Anyway. We went played a joint concert with the IFHS band, and Ashli and I both saw some old friends we'd left behind. And we played a concert for the kids at our old elementary school. (like I said, pretty obvious that my mom planned pretty much the whole thing, right?) It was actually two concerts, one for the lower grades and one for the upper grades, and a little bit of downtime in between during lunchtime. My first, fifth, and sixth grade teachers were still there so Ashli and I went to see them (two of them had her too). I remember being a little surprised that my first grade teacher remembered us, I always pictured her in my head as so old. She wasn't really, she had a son in high school (college?) when I was in her class, but when you're six any lady with white hair has one foot in the grave, you know? And of course, at the time it had only been four years since my family had been a regular fixture at that school. But all three remembered us and seemed really happy to see us, and I'm sure my impending graduation made them feel more than a little old. I wonder if they would recognize/remember me if I went back now.
And I wonder how long these kids will remember me - and how. As the random mean lady who wouldn't help them on a math problem that I knew they knew how to do? Or the fun teacher who let them talk as much as they wanted as long as work was getting done? The one who wouldn't take their crap or the one who would joke around with them as long as it was appropriate?
There are two boys in fourth grade who's class I've been in since I started working at Ellis when they were in second grade. I adore all the kids, but these guys are two of my favorites. And it makes me a little sad to know I probably won't be in their class next year because the fifth grade teachers really like the aides they have - and the one I'm with this year is moving back down to fourth grade next year. And I keep hearing that all the teachers I've already worked with want me in their classes, so the odds of me getting a "new" teacher next year strike me as slim. But I kind of wish I could "finish" their elementary school years with these two. It's been so fun watching them for the last three. On the one hand, it seems like they haven't changed a bit . . . but on the other I can see how much they have, even just from the beginning of this year.
And back we go tot he beginning. I'm sure they'll remember their teachers ten, twenty years from now. But me? I know I've done a lot of good here, and helped a lot of kids . . . but just how influential have I been. This whole having aides in the room a lot is a pretty new thing . . . I think. At least, we didn't have them when I was in school. So I have nothing to go on. I'm not trying to be self-centered here. But sometimes I wonder just how much I've done in their minds. They're the ones I'm there to help - if they've completely forgotten me within five years does that mean I didn't help as much as thought I did, or just that there were a lot of things going on and a person just can't remember every little detail?
I always get a little pensive at the end of the school year . . . this year especially.
P. ost S. cript
I could seriously watch this longer than watching a kitty on a roomba. :-)