Friday we said good-bye to a student from our class. I’ve been reflecting on the journey this student and I have traveled. In a small private school such as ours, losing a student is huge. However, the decision was in the best interest of the student – not the school.
This young man has had a difficult road. From the time he was three and in our nursery program, he has struggled. He has extreme ADHD as well as other learning disabilities. Each year, he has fallen farther behind and frustrated more. Due to our declining enrollment, we lost our support services and this student lost his lifeline.
Even in our small setting and with my individualized approach to learning, I knew his needs were not being met. In our setting, it was as if there was a magnifying glass on him. He knew he wasn’t learning and was beginning to give up – in fourth grade! I had to set my ego aside and look at the big picture.
With age, and finally, some maturity (cough, cough) on my part, I’ve come to realize I can’t fix every child. I was working with this student so much that I was neglecting other students. As much as I tried to balance it all, I knew I wasn’t being fair. Also, since I had this student in third grade I knew what his strengths and weaknesses were and the fourth grade traditional curriculum was too much. A decision had to be made. Our school’s administrators agreed.
With a great sadness, I met with the parents and broke the news. Due to the trusting relationship we had built, the meeting went well and I helped guide them through the process of having their son transfer to a public school where he would get all of the services he deserved. We kept our focus on what was best for their wonderful child.
The week leading up to the student leaving, I taught the class about time lines. Each student made a time line of their lives. Then, on Friday, we shared our time lines and discussed that life never stops changing. At the end of the day, we wrote good-bye messages to our friend and hugged him good bye. We will miss him.
While I admit that I can’t fix every child, my teacher’s heart is heavy. I can’t seem to let go of the feeling that I could have done more.
Letting go is hard. Letting go of my ego is even harder.