"You're not leaving me. I'm not leaving you. We're just all leaving this room."
This is what I said to my students when I first informed them that I wouldn't be working at the school next year. I secured a job in February, and the first people I shared the news with at the school were my students. They were the individuals to whom I felt like I "owed" something. They were the ones I knew I would miss the most. I decided to tell them earlier to make the last day of school easier for all of us. My students and I always have the BEST relationships, like a little family. It's always hard for me on the last day of school, but I knew it would be extra hard because I wouldn't be returning to the school. I didn't want the last couple of weeks to be sad for me or them. I wanted us to get the sadness out of our system to help make my transition to my new school easier. Of course, my students were sad and immediately asked me why I was leaving them. My response? "I'm not leaving you. Technically, you all are leaving me because you're moving on up to 3rd grade!" Their response to that? "We won't leave you. We'll stay in second grade with you. We promise!" At that point, I had to explain to them that they earned the privilege of moving on to 3rd grade, and that is a good thing. That is how I came up with our saying. "You're not leaving me. I'm not leaving you. We're just all leaving this room."
My students would daily bring up my new job, and some of them would remind themselves and each other of our saying whenever they got sad about me leaving. I constantly reinforce to them that I wouldn't be their teacher again anyway, so they shouldn't be that sad about me leaving the school. That works for them and me...sometimes. I also get sad about leaving the school, but it helps me to remember that I wouldn't be their teacher anyway. Besides, I'm 99.9% sure that it's just time for me to go. Well...I WAS sure. I was sure until I got the call from my administration saying that if I stayed, I could teach 3rd-grade Reading. Which means (drumroll)...I would be teaching my babies! They needed an answer then, so I declined. Professionally, it's a no-brainer to take my new job opportunity. Financially, it's a no-brainer to take my new job opportunity. But emotionally, I want to stay right where my heart is...with my students that I've taught and who tremendously love me, and I tremendously love them back. I KNOW it's time to move on. The opportunities that await me at my new school are exactly what I need right now. The decision shouldn't have been that hard, but it was. I shouldn't have cried today after denying the job opportunity, but I did. I shouldn't feel as if I'm neglecting my babies, but I do. It shouldn't even be a consideration to call my administration tomorrow and tell them I'll stay, but it is. DANG, I really do love those kids! Not just these kids I've just taught, but all the kids I've taught at the school. I just don't feel right leaving them, even though I know this is a change I need.
Will this ever get easier? Will I ever be able to detach my personal feelings away from teaching? Will there ever be a time that my students don't consume the majority of my thoughts? Will there ever be a time where I feel like I don't "owe" my students to be there for them?
I'm afraid the answer to those questions is no. In my heart, I KNOW the answer to those questions is no. What I realized through this job opportunity is that for the best of my students, I was willing to give up a lot more of everything! More professional growth, more leadership opportunities, more money, and more experiences. If I were in a different field, then this new job opportunity (which isn't but seems like a promotion) would be a definite yes. I wouldn't think twice about turning in my resignation. However, in my decision, I considered those 20 children who I've spent the last year of my life with. I also sat and considered what is best for them in the midst of me considering what is best for me. I never would have guessed that I would actually get to the point where I considered not taking this job opportunity at the moment just so I could teach my former students in one of the most critical primary grades. I guess this is the price I pay for fulfilling my purpose, doing my passion, and having one of the most rewarding jobs ever. The job of educating children.