What a day. Basically the moment I walked in the door, I was bombarded by little cards with various pictures and messages that said things like, “thank you” and “good luck” and “we will miss you” and “you are a great teacher.”
I also received this crown. I know you’re jealous:
My class is honestly the most lovely bunch ever. As I called the role, they said things like, “please try and keep in touch” or “have a nice trip” or “we will miss you” instead of just “good morning.” My special time for the class was in the morning. My gift to them was a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
I simply had to, it’s simply the best message I could leave for them. My voice cracked as I read it, reflecting on all the places I’ve gone in the past 5 months…
They loved the book, but really loved my message:
Thank you so much for welcoming me into your class with open arms, hearts, and minds. You have helped me learn so much about being a teacher – especially the magic that happens when can all be friends.
You each have a special place in my heart, and I will never forget my class of Kiwi children as long as I live. Thank you so much for the memories that I will certainly treasure forever.
Remember to always be excited to learn. Remember to be creative and curious. Remember to love those around you and treat them with respect. Remember to smile. Remember that soon you will grow up to be the leaders of our world, and if you work hard, you can do anything you dream of.
Next, the real fun began…I taught them a thing or two about Vermont! I made a slideshow of Vermont-y pictures: UVM, foliage, maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, Shelburne Farms, Cheddar Cheese, FeelGood, Lake Champlain, apple picking, The Giant Pumpkin Regatta, skiing, Stowe, and apple cider. Oh, and me in Ghia, thrown in there because I couldn’t think how to end it They were fascinated!
They actually spent most of the day writing about what they learned. A lot, apparently! I have all the write-ups and can’t wait to read through them when I get a chance. I got a little preview and they are certainly making me smile: “Vermont has lots of trees, but not just ANY trees!”
And I got more than Vermont write-ups! Each child decorated a Takahe bird (their team name, also a native NZ bird) and wrote a message on it for me. I love this because I sometimes refer to my class as my “flock.”
On the more serious side, I also did a lot of Maths testing today. It was just a simple interview where I tested them at each stage to see their level. It was actually really interesting to see everything that I learned about “maths strategy stages” through my Uni class in real life! I guess I have been learning a lot, and it’s all pretty legit!
During lunch break, I enjoyed a little bit of the leftover chili from the potluck, plus a good piece of bread I snagged from it, too!
After lunch, I led some choral reading (so much better than Round Robin, let me tell YOU!) but the best part was that I got to use the fancy pointer. I seriously need one of those sparkly rainbow wands when I grow up!
The entire afternoon was dedicated as a special “Miss Jenkins Farewell” time. I got several special performances. First up: a play! Based off a Skippyjon Jones story that I read to them a few weeks ago.
Some girls acted it out the story while another girl narrated. Here was my program:
It was adorable! Then, one of my favorite students (wait, teachers don’t have favorites!!!) sang me a Foo Fighter’s song. As if my heart hadn’t already become a puddle on the floor. Then, each child performed their body rhythm pattern they have been working on all week. Some were very precise, others catchy, others creative! Those kids have got the beat!
Then, they sang for me my favorite song in their repertoire: “Just One Earth.” And the tears begin!!! But apparently that wasn’t enough of a gift ….
mentor class gave me the most thoughtful present. First, a lovely cushion-case with Pukekos (a Takahe relative) on it. I can’t wait to see this pillow on the (hot pink!) couch in my apartment!
Second, a beautiful paua shell necklace and card. The tears continued. Are you getting this image?
Thirdly, a little Takahe shelf decoration. Isn’t he cute???!
It was all too much I was overwhelmed.
We did stick to some of the Thursday afternoon routine: certificates. Guess who won “Student of the Week?”
But then, the bell rang. The school day was officially over. Shirley asked who wanted to formally say a word of thank-you to me on behalf of the entire class, which is a customary practice in New Zealand. About half the class frantically volunteered, so Shirley let a handful of kids speak. It was so touching. One of the most precious moments of my life. Here, I was given my farewell card. With glitter, no less!
Of course, I couldn’t let them go empty-handed, so I let each child choose a funky pencil.
Hugs goodbye, all around.
But the fun doesn’t stop there!!! Shirley and I had a date to go to Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe, a cute place I’ve passed on Dominion Rd each day going to and fro school.
Of course anything with “vegetarian” in the name makes my ears perk up, but I was even more excited to go when a woman I met at yoga told me how much she liked it. Shirley, being the sweetest woman on the planet that she is, insisted that Hannah come, too! When we arrived, we felt completely serene and calm, relaxed and energized despite the crazy we’d just had.
Even though I miss brewed coffee like a Cullen misses blood, I REALLY appreciate that all the good cafes in New Zealand give you a complimentary sweet with your latte. On the sid eof our mini berry coffee cake , we got chai lattes (made with homemade blended tea). I didn’t even have to ask for soymilk–she asked our milk preference right away.
It was very flavorful and spicy, just the way I like it.
While we waited for Hannah, I was happy to finally express my undying gratitude to Shirley and give her the gifts I picked out for her. It pales in comparison to everything she’s done for me, but luckily, I have a way with words.
I cannot thank you enough for being my NZ mentor; I was so lucky to have you and it was simply destiny that we were matched. You taught me so many valuable things about what it means to be a good teacher. You taught me so much about the value of spontaneous learning experiences and how to integrate them smoothly into your day: flexibility. You taught me the importance of a good sense of humor: joy. Most importantly, you taught me so much about how important it is to know your students as individuals: love. Thank you for teaching me that if I can be flexible, joyful, and love each one of my students, then I can do this, and do it well. Thank you for every opportunity, small and great. Thank you for your generosity, compassion, and insights. And please, keep in touch!
Then, my small gifts:
Simply a pretty mug and some dark chocolates. She gushed and gushed over my humble gesture, because that’s just the kind of woman she is <3
Now, onto the food… When Shirley asked for recommendations, the waitress said, “Well, it depends on what you eat. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free?” SWOON! I told her I had no restrictions but I preferred vegan. Shirley basically ordered everything that I mentioned sounded good. We all shared a bit of everything:
Good food and good conversation? Shirley and I should have gone every week! It was the perfect way to end the internship.
And as if all THAT wasn’t enough, look what Shirley got for us on the way out:
She asked, “do you like chocolate cake?” Well, I couldn’t lie to a woman I respect so much!
…did you think that was it?
Her question about those were, “would you eat those?” Ummm, yes! She certainly knows how to ask leading questions
Apparently she hadn’t quite done enough for us, because she insisted on driving us home, and pulled right up in front of our door, asking if we were safe . There is no other way to say it: I love Shirley. I will miss her so much! I had such an amazing experience in her class, and it was truly all because of her.
When I got home, I had these three messages in my inbox:
HA! Sounds like my brother’s journey is off to a memorable start. He is in the air somewhere over the Pacific Ocean right now. Please send him positive energy! He lands around 6am, New Zealand time.
Even though I’m about to study my bum off for my Maori Culture final tomorrow until I fall asleep, I am feeling positively incandescent with happiness. I’ve just had an incredible end to an incredible NZ practicum, and my brother arrives in a matter of hours to kick off our week of traveling.