I sign onto Zoom. It’s 8:55. Already the names are popping up in the Waiting Room. I click View Participants. The twins are on, early as usual. There is C, and now M. At 9:00, I sign in. A few more names pop up. A few more squares fill in with smiling first grade faces. Some have brought yet another toy or stuffed animal to class today. Some have their cats or dogs (or both) by their sides. Some screens are on, but no kids. Then they come running. A is not here yet. He’s usually late, but recently he’s been getting online closer and closer to 9:00. At 9:05 we get started. Mid greeting I see A’s name pop up, so I let him in. As we continue saying good morning across the grid, I hear A’s voice. “Mrs. Griffin…..” He says it quietly, but in a way that makes it clear he wants to (needs to) say something.
“Good morning, A. Do you have a question?”
“I’m going back to my school on Monday.” he says. Just straight out like that.
We all stop.
“Oh no!” cries S. “We just lost C yesterday, and now you?!”
I’m glad that S has jumped in because I’m caught off guard. I know going back to school is what’s best for A. I’ve been talking with the principal of his school and his parents, advocating for more support. I know it’s what’s best, but I can’t stand the thought of losing this boy from our classroom. He’s come such a long way. He’s much more engaged. He’s starting to do the work. He’s even doing some of the work that I assign for the afternoon. I think he’s even stopped watching video games during my instruction! He’s an essential part of this community.
I jump back in. “A. That is going to be great! You are going to love being back at school. We are really going to miss you, your kind ways, your sense of humor, and your amazing Flipgrids! That’s when I feel my throat tighten. I hear my voice crack, just a bit. That’s when one of my students says, “Mrs. Griffin, it sounds like you are going to cry.” I rally every bit of strength I have so that I don’t completely lose it in front of this screen of squares, this grid of 10 first graders.
“Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye,” I said.