Tuesday, November 09, 2010


One of the special things about working in a low-income, high-transiency school is that you sometimes have little or no notice that a child is moving.

This morning a girl turned her homework in on my desk, and then told me that this afternoon she needed to pack up all her stuff because her mom was picking her up and tomorrow she was going to a new school. Occasionally a kid will claim to be moving for months (and it never happens), but this was immediate- and as a quick check with the secretary revealed, it was also true.

She came and found me while I was on recess duty. She left her friends to come over and tell me that she was really going to miss me and she wished she could stay here at our school. But she was moving- again- to at least her 4th school in 2 1/2 years. She said she asked her mom if they could just please stay in one spot.

And I want to ask her mom the same thing. This girl started the year reading under 10 words a minute and she is expected to be at 90 words a minute by the end of the year. This girl has just finally- after working on it for the last 10 weeks of school- learned to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's (... most of the time).

Sure, she's gregarious and adorable, so she'll make friends at a new school, but will she still have 60 minutes of targeted reading instruction at her level (even though it is probably a year behind)? Will she still get at least 30 minutes of focused, small-group time on math skills? Will she still have two teachers in her classroom to pull her out when she needs some extra help? Will she still be coming to school an extra hour every day and potentially an extra 6 weeks into the summer to help her catch up?

Most of those will definitely not be true at her new school, and the others aren't likely.

So I spent the end of my lunch writing her a note, hopefully at her reading level, that told her how much I was going to miss her and gave her the address of the school in hopes she'll write to me.

She probably won't, but I had to try. Because I will miss her. Despite how hard things are for her, she has a bright and cheery attitude and won't give up. I've asked her to erase a backwards number or letter countless times and she doesn't complain- she just fixes it and goes on trying. She's got this beautiful singing voice and loves to use rhythm or movement while she counts. She wants to do well and she's sweet, and when she finally does get something, she grins from ear to ear and you can't help but feel every bit as proud as she does. She's one of those kids I've just clicked with a little extra.

And I just have to hope that her new teacher doesn't groan and give up after seeing her test scores. I have to hope that her new teacher doesn't get frustrated with how talkative she can be, or how she sometimes spaces out and doesn't pay attention. And more than that, I have to hope that her new teacher can find the time and the help to get her what she really needs. (Because although most teachers would probably want to, it's sometimes impossible to get it all in.)

I may have only known her since August, but I hate having to let her go and trust that some teacher I don't know at some other school is going to take care of her, especially because I know my school has been given extra money for extra teachers and extra time and most schools don't have those kinds of opportunities for their students.

It's hard when a student leaves. It's harder when it's a student you worked with in small groups or individually a lot. It's tougher when you've seen firsthand how another teacher might not click with her so well. It's even worse when she once spent a day of recess telling you about fighting going on at home.


I hope it all works out. Who knows? Maybe she'll end up back here someday...