Even though I never experienced this while growing up, as a teacher I now have 20-30 students every year that arrive and then leave within months. Some of these students return, but the majority I never see again.
Right now I am sitting at my desk and looking at the cabinet thinking about the portfolio filled with art projects that have been left behind. I am thinking to myself,
"What was the last thing that I said to him?"
I am a firm believer that every person enters our lives for a specific purpose. You don't know what they are going through, you don't know the family problems they might have or their academic struggles. That being said I try to make the best of the time that I do have with them. I try to treat every student with respect and dignity, even if they can seem challenging at first. I think to live my life this way not only shows anyone who crosses my path that they are worth respect, but that they deserve to be treated like a decent human being.
The last time I saw this student was after school on Friday. He was waiting for his bus. I asked him how his week had been, what he was going to do when he got home. I asked him what his favorite class was and how he was doing grade wise. He mentioned to me that it was math, that he enjoyed being with that teacher, and he felt he was doing better than before. I said I was proud of him and shook his hand and I remember him smiling, looking proud of himself.
That is how I will remember him. I hope that he remembers that I encouraged him and treated him with respect, even if it was only for a small period of time.
As an art teacher, my position in a students life teeters on being a content teacher and counselor of sorts. I have the privileged of being a listener, encourage, an advocate. This is what I remind myself of, especially when some of the students I teach are only here for a season.
How do you cope with students that leave? What do you hope they take with them as they go?