Have you ever had a student that you didn't connect with? A child that seemed to do the opposite of any suggestion that was made? A child that lived by another set of rules instead of the class rules?
Students come in all shapes, sizes, colors, experiences and personalities. Every now and then, there will be one student that remains a puzzle throughout the entire year. Despite your best efforts, day after day, you are seldom on the same page. It's not that he doesn't learn and progress. It just that you've never clicked on that deeper level that you do with most of your students. Fortunately, this has only happened to me a few times in my years of teaching Kindergarten. Yet one thing that I've discovered, I can still make a huge difference for that child, helping to pave the way after they leave my classroom.
The first thing I do is to talk with this child's first-grade teacher before school even begins. I always make sure I share a list of positive things about the student. I do relay a bit of information about some of our struggles, but I always end with, "I know he is in good hands now. You're the best choice for his teacher and I'm sure you will work your magic on him."
The next opportunity comes when I see this child in the hallway. I quickly tell him that I have talked with his new teacher. I tell him one or two of those positive things I have shared, then I smile and walk off.
Periodically, I check-in with the teacher to see how things are going. I ask her to give me an example of something that's going well with the student. Next time I see him in the hallway, I'll tell him that his teacher told me he was really good at ___ Then I smile and walk off.
Every time I see him in the hallway I smile and say, "It's good to see you" or "I miss you, wish you were still in Kindergarten."
Since we have back-to-back recesses with his first grade, sometimes I see him standing on a "time-away-to-think-about-your choices" dot. As I'm walking my class back inside, I'll just lean over and whisper, "Tomorrow will be a better day." I pat him on the back, smile and keep walking.
Before you know it, he's calling my name in the hallway, just to wave at me. What do you know, we've become "waving buddies."
I've discovered that even though our year together was at times rocky, I can forge a different relationship with him now. I can enjoy being someone "in his corner." It's easy to smile and wave. After all, I am the only Kindergarten teacher he will ever have. I really am a forever teacher.