(What a difference a year makes. There are several days in my life that I’ll never forget. November 1, 2018 is one of them. I’m sharing excerpts of my book Diligently leading up to The Diligently Infused Gathering at The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on November 5, 2019)
November 1, 2018
In my mind, I had come up with a foolproof plan to take down all of my Pinterest-inspired decorations. After being moved from our former location to make room for a new school for gifted students, to a location that was dull and uninviting to students, I committed to creating a bright space where students would learn in a colorful and welcoming environment. Not only did I teach English, American Government and Economics to my students, I also introduced them to mindfulness and meditation. Mr. Bailey, my para, and I worked hard to create an inviting place for our students.
After I had taken all of the decorations down, a student walked into my room and asked me what I was doing. I felt a breath of both frustration and regret. Now, I should have contacted his family. This student had been through so much already. Our bond was unique in that he would just pop into my classroom for no reason at all. It didn’t take long to sense that he found a connection to me as a mom, since he had lost his several years ago. If he were my son, he would’ve been my middle child because he fit perfectly between my two sons.
I stopped as I balled up the colorful tissue paper and gently told him that I was leaving. He laughed and asked me to stop playing. He stood in my classroom and stared at me and said, “You’re lying.” In the calmest voice that I could muster up, I told him about the program’s numbers being low and that I was being reassigned to another school. Before I could get my thoughts completely out, he abruptly left my room in tears.
“Dag!” I thought. “This is going to be so hard.”
At 8:20 a.m., the first bell rang and students entered my room. I taught English for the first three bells, but my first bell contained students that I had had the longest. It was really important that they learned of my leaving from me. The plan was to tell them that I was leaving and let them know that their new schedule would begin that very same day. I made another announcement that morning to stoic faces. I informed them that I wouldn’t be having class that morning, since I needed to pack up my room. Next, I told them to follow their new schedule.
It felt like my students took on a Colin Kaepernick moment as they all got up, went and grabbed their unfinished work from the previous day. I looked over at Mr. Bailey and he put up “Webster’s Word of the Day” on the screen and began playing mindful music through the classroom speakers.
I totally understood how they were feeling. They were hurt and had no intention of leaving my classroom. I went to my desk and cried, just like I am right now as I relive that moment. Later as I recovered, I would learn why leaving hurt so bad. The success of my students meant as much to me as the success of my own children.