That’s how long we teachers get for a school year, give or take some days, depending on the weather and the political climate. When the education experts tell us we need more time with students, we gear up for that. When the politicians tell us we need to get it all done in less time, we try our best to do that.
This year, I had one hundred seventy six days with my twenty-two second graders. We had two weather days, one for a flood and one for snow. I missed a day when my granddaughter was born and another one for staff development. Each day was seven hours long. In those hours, we worked hard; we read, we wrote, we added and subtracted and began to understand what it means to multiply, we measured stuff and tried to figure out fractions and old fashioned clocks. We also learned some Georgia history, some geography, some economics, some life science, and some things about matter and the moon. All of these endeavors were deemed by the experts as being important for second-graders to know how to do.
During our time together this year, we cohabitants of Room 119 were also quite busy with things that had very little to do with our instructional standards as we learned about ourselves and each other. Twenty-three people in one room for approximately 900 hours, that’s a lot of time with a passel of people in a small space, a heaping mass of lively humanity.
We laughed, we cried, we tripped, we fell out of our chairs, we argued, we made up, we hurt each other’s feelings, we lied, we cheated, we forgave each other, we played, we drew, we spelled things wrong, we spelled things right, we bled, we asked for band-aids, we asked to see the nurse, we sneezed, we coughed, we had lice, we asked to call a parent, we asked to go to the bathroom, we said it was an emergency, we stayed too long, we said mean things, we said sweet things, we asked a thousand questions, we raised our hands, we spoke out of turn, we were rude, we were polite, we complained, we joked, we hit each other, we ran into each other, we poked each other with fingers and pencils, we sharpened pencils, we broke the points and sharpened them again, we lost scissors and books and notes and jackets and lunch boxes, we found some of those things and swore someone stole the others, we became friends, we became enemies, we became friends again, we told on each other, we broke things, we fixed things, we colored, we cut, we started over, we glued and stapled, we ate our snacks, we shared our snacks, we fought over our food, we had our hearts broken and glued back together, we lost teeth, we put them in a baggie, we shared, we kept secrets, we fooled around, we didn't pay attention, we were sorry, and we learned our lessons.
Our class this year was a passionate one. Our highs were higher and our lows were lower. Despite the fact we could break out in a rage at the the smallest thing, we were the most caring group I think I've ever seen. We helped each other when we needed a hand, we checked on our friends, we worried about hurt feelings, and we railed against an injustice to one of us.
Like the old woman in her shoe, there were times when I didn't know what to do, but we prevailed, and our sum became more than our parts, and we were known as Mayo's class. Before we knew it, seven-year-olds had become eight, and a fifty-nine-year-old teacher was somehow sixty, and then April became May.
And so, we will move on into summer and into our next year, to a new teacher, to new students, but never again will these 23 people ever spend hours together in Room 119. The thought makes me rather sad.