Toward the end of the school year, my students started asking me, “Will I get to read with you next year?” It broke my heart to tell them no. Saying goodbye is never easy, even when you know that moving on is the right thing to do. I feel confident that one year with the Minnesota Reading Corps was enough. Yet nothing tests my resolve more than a nine-year-old girl telling me how much she’s going to miss me.
Last week we threw a party for all the Reading Corps students. With four tutors at my school, that was over a hundred kids. My favorite part was when we gathered the kids around their respective tutors and took group pictures. I had never seen all my students in one place, and it reminded me of how worthwhile the past year has been. Our wonderful internal coach — the teacher who supervises the Reading Corps members — made us each a framed copy of the group picture with our students. I look pale as a ghost next to all those beautiful faces, but I love love love it.
About two-thirds of my students were with me for the entire year. It was easy to get discouraged at times, wondering if I was really making a difference in their learning. Then I took a better look at my data. Reading Corps is all about statistics, and we have graphs tracking the progress of each student. I realized that students who had started second grade reading 20 words per minute were now reading 80 or 90 words. They were able to pick up a book and read it fluently, only needing my help with the occasional tricky word. When you see someone every day, it’s hard to notice them changing, but they are.
I’m excited for summer. I’m excited to have more energy for creative pursuits. I have a few crafty projects in mind, and the blog is already getting more of my attention. Despite the advantages of summer vacation, I know I’m going to miss my kids. Who else could come up with such creative misspellings of my name? Or draw pictures of me with rainbow-colored hair?