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Saying Goodbye to a Classroom is TOUGH!

August 12, 2010

I couldn’t have picked a more boring title for this piece.  I love teaching Essay- and this would not make it past any revision stage in our classroom. And yet it is the title I’ve chosen. It’s simple and true. It is TOUGH to leave a place where your heart has latched onto for 4 years. It is TOUGH to leave a classroom.

Thankfully, writing has been a dear friend through this transition. That for Which There are No Words, In Beauty it is Finished, and Saying Goodbye with Poetry were my public attempts at dealing with leaving. And yet. Here I am again, discovering more tears in the hidden places.

I know I’m on the more sensitive end of the spectrum, but I assume this feeling is natural and common among other teachers. (I’ve said goodbye to 2 others classrooms, but only after a year.  This one is different. This one has been home. )

Again, I turn to writing to help me heal… and this time, I’ve added pictures. Rather than seeing it as all CHANGE and LOSS, I want to see it as a story. A story of love, growth, and maybe even some redemption.

4 years ago, I walked into Room 317, my first New York classroom.

My Library in 2006

And then I tried to put my stamp on it… Tried to bring a little Lindsay to the Bronx.  I soon learned that 6th graders would not *want* to sit on the floor, even if I DID have shaggy red carpets.  And having a few bean bag chairs and 32 students required thinking ahead. We used chairs for 3 years instead. (In 2009, sitting (on the floor) in the meeting area was just how we did things. No one asked questions. )

My 1st meeting area as a "real" workshop teacher.

Over the years, room 317 grew.. and so did my teaching.

Writing Celebration 2006

I fell in love with The Bronx and the kids who live there.

Last day of school 2006

We had a lot of fun, too.

When asked, "Why do you need 30 extra minutes on that field trip, Ms. Reyes?" I said it was for reflection and independent outdoor reading. What I meant was this.

My students taught me how to teach. As I grew, so did the environment…

I read Georgia Heard and Katherine Bomer. Then, this happened.

And the library… well, it grew too. This is 1/3 of it.

But as things grow, they also change. It was time to move on from the place where I grew up as a teacher. Certain dreams came true in this room. It’s where I learned from heroes.. where I laughed, cried… Where I stumbled toward the person I want to be and learned more about kids and literacy than I could have imagined.

This week, I said goodbye to Room 317.

I thought I had done my last bit of grieving but it was clear as I stood paralyzed in a familiar spot that I hadn’t. There was nothing left to do. So I walked around 1 last time. I thanked God for the last 4 years and even prayed that peace and beauty would remain a tangible thing in this room…this school; that it would defeat any darkness that tried to invade (because it will) and I then I stood there in the silence.

I stood looking at this for a long time. I cried slow tears that were satisfying and complete. I was ready.


There was only 1 thing left to do. I looked one last time, took the deepest breath I could,  and shut my door.

Epilogue:  In my mind, what I’ll always see is this:

“If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” -Shel Silverstein

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 8:35 pm

    Gorgeous classroom shots. Your room looks like a place where learning is fun!

  2. September 10, 2010 10:15 pm

    Wow, you really captured your emotions. I love that you incorporated pictures.

    I just found your blog from your TWT guest post, and I look forward to checking back in later.

    • September 11, 2010 7:15 pm

      Thank you for your dear words. I’ve just been on your blog and LOVE it. I’m also really excited to know there are so many more teachers doing this. Wow.. your blog roll was amazing! I can’t wait to read more of all of it.

      Best of luck this year!

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