Today, one of my students had his last day. His family was forced to move due to economic issues. Things have been tough for the family and both parents had been struggling to find enough work. I was sad to see this student leave, especially so close to the end of the school year. He has been attending this school since Kindergarten and to have to leave a month early in his last year at the school is such a disappointment.
My Cooperating Teacher has a powerful ritual for when students leave early and I was fortunate to be a part of it today. Everyone sits in a large circle, with the student who is leaving either in the middle of the circle or in a special class president chair. We then pass around a rock and everyone shares a favorite story or something they will miss about the person. At the end, my Cooperating Teacher tells the student that we have all shared our favorite memories while we were holding the rock and they get to keep this special rock to help them remember their time in the class and to remember all the things their teacher and classmates said about them. The principal and ELL teacher came to take part in the ritual as well. At then end the principal told the student he should put the rock in his backpack on his first day at his new school to carry us with him.
It was such a great experience to hear all the stories students told and all the ways they thought this student was special. I think this really let the student know how much this community cares about him and how sad everyone is to see him go.