For the last three years, my class has upheld a tradition. Rather than giving a heartfelt speech of my own, I have invited students to deliver impromptu speeches of their own. They simply sit in a circle and talk to their classmates...and the tears flow. Presentations come from the least likely sources, and their messages are sincere. This is the day when I finally get to see proof that my students have been listening to me!
All year, I pound a message of family into my class. All year, we talk about what this means. On this day - last Friday - students demonstrate that theme by looking directly at their classmates and telling them, "I love you. We are a family. We are brothers and sisters. I will miss you over the summer. No matter what happens we are a family. We will never meet again as this class, but we will always have each other as a family." Wow!
Suddenly the eyes begin to sting and a lump comes to the throat as we share hugs. The parent of a former student came to the room and told me, "Your class cries more than the [graduating] fifth graders!" That simple statement lets me know that what we have in Room 404 is special. It has been that way for each of the three years since we started this accidental tradition. I love it.