Toy Story and Teaching

It’s been over a week since my last day with my students and I didn’t know how to share it with you.  If you remember from my previous post, I was not renewed for the following year and I haven’t even told my students about it.

I decided that I would tell them on this day, but as soon as I arrived to school some students were asking me if what they heard was true.  I knew at that moment this was going to be a long day.

That morning, when I walked from my car I had a few students asking my that they heard I wasn’t going to return next year and I told them that that was true but to keep it quiet because I have to talk to my students about it.

Being a parent and working around kids, I already knew that my “secret” was not going to make it past the morning bell.  I decided that I was going to try to find a proper time to tell the students, but I didn’t know how.

The day ran through like most normal days: students disobeying, me speaking at the top of my lungs trying to get their attention, answering a million questions about when the pizza party was going to begin and dodging questions about “What teacher am I going to have next year?”

After a few minutes of cleaning, organizing the room and getting them settled I decided it was time to let them know.  My students knew that something was up by the countless stream of students, from other classes, that kept entering the room to give me cards and letters they made in class.

I sat everyone down and pulled out my laptop.  I decided the best thing to do was read the post I wrote to them or have someone else read it for me.  As expected I did not get any volunteers, so I read it myself.

Things were going fine until I got to the paragraph about being let go.  My eyes started tearing up, my voice started shaking and I had to stop for a moment.

Here’s when things got real. One of my students, who has been given my trouble for the past few months, got up from his chair and slowly started walking towards me.  While he walked, he was talking about how “no teachers cared for him like me” that “he will do his best next year and stop playing around” the he “promises on his mom that he will do better next year.”  He sat next to me and started crying.  I put my arm around him, put out my hand and made him promise me with a  handshake that he will do what he said.  He shook my hand and said “I promise.”

As I looked around I noticed other students crying and I tried to defuse the situation by saying, “Come on guys! We have pizza coming this afternoon. Let’s make some good memories!”

I went around to the other rooms and read my post and talked to the students about why this was happening.

During one class, I stopped for a moment and I started thinking about Toy Story 3.  Then it hit me that Toy Story 3 could be a great metaphor for teaching.

I asked the students how many of them have seen Toy Story 3.  Then I broke it down to them, that I am Woody or Buzz Lightyear, depending on who their favorite was.

I said throughout the year we have had some great times and some bad times.  Now I have given them as much of myself I could have and now it is time to pass me down to a new generation of students.

I said that even though I will not be here next year, they will always have the memories of me and everything that we have gone through.  They will be able to smile as they remember me and know that I will always be in their hearts and no one will ever take that away.  Even though I will be “playing” with new students, I will always remember them too.

While talking to the students, I saw some of them start to smile and the tears stop in their eyes.  I felt a little better after that talk and couldn’t wait to go to my classroom and have some pizza with my kids.

When the day ended some students wanted to take pictures, while others gave me a hug and a thank you.  Other students just gave me a wave and said see you soon.

I stayed in the playground longer than I usually do and watched as my students walked home or got picked up by their parents.  It was a bittersweet type of day. I was sad to be leaving the school, but I was excited to see what the future has in store for me.

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