When I found out I would be leaving my music-teaching job, my mind turned to how to best prepare them for a transition them to a new teacher. Some of the things I was able to do included:
- Assuring them that the school would hire an awesome teacher for them!
- Having honest conversations with them about how a new person would be different, and that's okay, as well as how the new teacher will have different strengths and weaknesses than me, and they will learn a lot that I couldn't teach them!
- Giving students the option to write letters to me (for closure) or the new teacher (to introduce themselves & share their perspective on orchestra) instead of our regular end-of-year reflection assignment.
- Telling students that they can still contact me if needed - they have my email!
- Advocating for a student to be on the interview committee, to hopefully create instant buy-in to the new teacher from at least one student (and the rest would follow).
- Leaving notes for the new teacher, especially a few ideas for kids who might just need a little extra love :-).
The best part of teaching, for me, is developing relationships with "my" kids. Stepping away was (and still is) hard. Intentionally preparing to "pass them off" was hard. I don't regret it - they have an amazing new teacher and I'm loving where I am at now - but I still miss them.
This week, I had the opportunity to see many of "my" kids as I was out in the schools. It was both refreshing and bittersweet at the same time. The smiles and hugs and "Ms. Yeh!"s made my day. Yet these kids aren't really mine anymore. They have moved on and settled in with their new teacher. I love this - it's the best thing I could hope for them. But, selfishly, it makes me a little sad, too. More than anything, it has reminded me of how special our time with students is.
Teachers, you get to create something so precious in your classrooms.
The culture, the relationships, the routines, the inside jokes, and the atmosphere - the classroom environment is something to be treasured. I always found that, while my classes were similar, I had a unique bond with each group that could not be replicated anywhere else! I could teach that same class again, but it wouldn't feel quite the same. That's the beauty of teaching a class full of individuals, with their own hopes, dreams, and quirks.
I know that days can drag on, lesson plans and grading can seem endless, answering certain parent emails/phone calls can be arduous, and behavioral issues can be challenging. But, please, don't lose sight of how special these moments are. "Your" kids deserve it!