So remember how I told you I had to say farewell to my students this week? Well I teach an early elementary school level class where the kids are about eight and nine. My Friday class is usually pretty amazing, they really get into class and seem to enjoy the class. Well for some reason, today, the kids were a little more unruly than usual but nothing I couldn’t handle. We finished class and I had to give after class announcements to the parents and children. After making the general class announcements, and with my heart-thumping super-hard in my chest, I passed out my official farewell letter to all of the parents. With one of the managers translating, I explained to everyone that I would soon be leaving AEON, and that my replacement, Matt would be taking over in late February. I watched shock spread through the small crowd of parents as their eyes bulged and mouths dropped in disbelief. I totally expected parents to be shocked and I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t ready for was one of my students, Airi, who is really a good student, getting upset. She started by stomping and shouting “No!” “No!” “No!” After she calmed down a bit, I had to help her with a phonics self-study course that she works on every week. I gave her a high five afterwords and her eyes welled with tears, and she just couldn’t stop weeping. With her mother at my side, I tried to comfort her as best I could, but it was of little use…she just continued to weep. It felt like with each teardrop my heart sank. Watching Airi cry nearly drove me to tears, but I didn’t want to make the situation even more difficult for Airi, the parents, or myself. From the outside looking in, it’s sometimes hard to imagine the effect you have on a child’s life. You may often think you’re just coming in and doing your job everyday, but to this child that has no concept of a having a job, you become more than just human resources, more than just a teacher. Kids can see you as so many different things: a friend, a comedian, a crush, even a hero. This bond can be one of ultimate joys of teaching, but when you have to leave, it can be one of the hardest realities to face.
P.S.- I do remember this happening only one other time, and I actually couldn’t hold back the tears on this occasion. I used to teach karate in the United States and had developed a bond with the students and parents at the school. As a matter of fact, I can still go there to this day and see some of the same students I taught over six years ago. I finished my last class at the karate school and announced that I would be leaving. I was already a bit shaky because I love karate so much. As soon as I made the announcement, this group of about ten, six to eight-year olds all rushed over and started hugging my legs…some of them crying…some of them saying “Mr. Ash.” This emotional display hit me square in the emotions, and I didn’t have time to brace myself for it…I cried. Yes, that makes me a bit of a sap but…I couldn’t help it.