I am sitting here reading the aspirations of my 8th grade students in preparation for conversations tomorrow about where they should be going to high school and what they should be doing there. For some reason, am having trouble holding back tears.
I have been their Economics teacher for two years and in that time, I have watched them grow from barely out of 6th grade to smart and impulsive enough to be a “high schooler.” I have heard their stories, pulled pranks on and with them, walked them through meltdowns, and shared articles that we both thought were outrageous. I know each of them by the back of my hand: what they like or don’t like, what they want to be, when their birthday is, where they are if they are skipping, which parent to call if I need a response, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and their biggest hopes and dreams. Through it all, this group of 44 kids have made me feel as though I could teach another 20 years if I could have them as students for every one.
I feel a sense of loss and the year isn’t even over, yet. Next week, we are taking them on the final 8th grade field trip where I get to spend 5 days with them and I am really looking forward to it. I feel like it is a blessing that I get to spend another x amount of hours educating them on the intangibles of the world.
As I sit here and think about all of the things that I still need to teach them, I have to remind myself of all of the things that they already know that other 8th graders don’t: How to calculate taxes, a household budget, the state of the economy, why the middle class is disappearing, conflicts between Iran & US and Israel & Palestine, APA citation paper, survey methods, etc. Part of me feels as though I have given them all i possibly can while the majority feels a sense of panic that I am sending them into the world of high school without knowing so many things. It is as though I want them to know at 13, everything I know at 24 so that they are set up for success. However, I didn’t become successful by being given the information; I did so because I had teachers that gave me the tools to find it.
This leads me to what I hope will not be the last thing I teach them. For the last 24 days, I hope to give them as many chances as possible to find the information they need with tools I have given them that are stored in their “toolbox.”
Tomorrow is a big day as we have a discussion about what is in store for them next. I am excited to have the conversation. I just know that it is going to be hard to keep a dry face…