Saying Goodbye, Screen Style

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.

6 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye, Screen Style”

  1. At least you were able to say goodbye. Some of mine have gone back to school without any warning or chance to say goodbye. I’m amazed at how attached I’ve gotten just through the screen. Even there we learn about our kids and come to love them. In person school is best for them, though. Thanks for this slice. I am mourning with you.

  2. This was touching. I knew you would be in a different place now than when you started. You should feel proud of the community you have built and the progress you have nurtured with these kids. One lucky class!

  3. You capture this small moment so clearly. I’ve been trying to write during this time by including pandemic details to truly capture life in 2020. I love all the specific details you added plus the honest feelings espressed through a voice cracked.Thanks for sharing this touching moment.

  4. Absolutely unbelievable! Your caring, honest, respectful way with children has brought them together as not just a class, but a community that cares about each and every member! I raise my hat to you, your bravery, determination to be the best teacher you can be for your class!🙌

  5. Kids are so perceptive, aren’t they? The girl that picked up on your tiniest crack of voice certainly was! I am taking a brief online class (3 Mondays). Yesterday was our first session. I was eager to get off and start other things so I think I said thank you first and tried to get off my screen. They everyone started in with the thank you’s and good-byes. Yes, I think it’s hard to shut down. The door might serve as a better exit. Thanks for sharing. I hope “A” does well “in school.”

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