I’m sitting here in my classroom, and on a normal year at this time I would be cleaning up after the last day of school, thinking about what a great school year we have had, and probably shedding a few tears.

But now that I know that I will be continuing with this class in August for fourth grade, I can’t get the smile off my face! It has been so fun to tell each of you the news! I will never forget those moments. What was originally going to be 10 months with this amazing group of kids was cut to 7, but now becomes 17! I read this article that Mrs. Schaar (Grace’s mom) shared with me to some of you when I was telling you the news, but I wanted to share it with all of you, because it describes my feelings so well that I have felt the last couple of months. It is by a former teacher by the name of Kelsey Irwin. Here is what it says:

I just dropped off homework, next to an empty parking lot & quiet sidewalks. I set the girls’ folders next to folders with their friends’ names— friends they haven’t seen in weeks. I finally let some tears fall over the loss of this. For them. For their teachers. For this school I love so much.

I used to be a teacher & here is the thing: August through December you & the students are getting to know each other. You’re building rapport & setting boundaries & sticking to your guns so that order can be established. You are spending that time making sure everyone feels safe and heard, because only then will they start to learn anything. January & February you’re just trying to get everyone back on track after break, you’re scrambling around snow days and preparing for state testing.

But March through May? It’s the golden time to be a teacher. And a student. You’ve become a weird little family; you know one another’s quirks- you know when Josh needs to go to the bathroom every day and you know when Sarah just needs to stretch her legs a bit. You laugh before the punchline because you already know one another’s jokes. There are trips and fun projects that have been saved all year because finally— FINALLY— these students are really YOURS. It’s the sweet spot. And this year, all around the world, teachers and students are missing out on this long-awaited payoff. Everyone is still doing the best they can for their students, but they don’t get the daily life that has become so comfortable for them at this point in the year.

I haven’t taught for 7 years, and I STILL miss March through May with students. It was a magic you can’t understand if you’re not an educator. Every fresh August I would miss my previous students and wonder who the imposters were sitting in their seats… but then I would remind myself to hold on, to invest in the new ones, to put in the time… because March was coming.

So when you hear teachers say they miss their students, they really, really do. In their very guts. And they are grieving losing a March-May with this group that they will never get back. Sure, they will get it again, but not with this group. Our kids will be fine. Sure, they’ll be a little behind on a few things and lots of review will be necessary, but they will be fine. I’m not sad about them missing out on some math problems. I’m just sad everyone is missing the magic. So if you’ve thanked your child’s teacher for the work they’re doing to still educate your child, that’s good. Do that. But also? Thank them for loving them so much that losing March-May with them hurts.

When I read that out loud to people, I can’t get through it without getting emotional. Magic is the perfect word to describe March through May in my classroom because that is exactly what it is. I think of March 30 of this year as Black Monday. That was the day that the governor announced that schools would remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. I felt kind of like my family was being taken away from me. Everything felt so incomplete, and I felt so completely robbed of that time with my students. The only thought that gave me some peace was the thought of moving up to 4th grade with my class. I knew on that day that although it wasn’t my decision, I had to do everything in my power to explore the possibilities and see if that could happen.

There was a lot of discussion and some sleepless nights filled with worry that it might not happen. But there are some truly amazing people with understanding hearts who helped to make it into a reality, and I will never be able to adequately express how grateful I am for them and their understanding. Now we DO get that time back! Now I get to keep the promises I made to these kids and we get to finish what we started. I am so incredibly grateful for that.

This will be my fourth year teaching fourth grade, and actually the fourth time I have moved up to fourth grade with my third grade class. The last time I did it was in 2008, but it was such an amazing experience each time. I am so excited to do it again! I always get so excited for the upcoming school year, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as I am for the 2020-2021 school year!

Research shows that staying with a class like this for a second year (looping) can add two months of academic instruction. The teacher doesn’t have to explain all the policies and procedures, and the strengths and weaknesses of each student is already known. We can just pick up on August 3 right where we left off on March 5. I’ll share with you some more of the amazing benefits of looping in another email…this one is already getting a little long!

I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to teach your children. They are truly amazing and I am a better person because of the time I have spent with them. We have learned so much together, and sometimes I feel that I learn more from them than they learn from me! I can’t wait to continue teaching them and learning from them. You are all remarkable parents and are doing such a fantastic job raising these little sweethearts.

I made a little 9-minute last day of school video with the help of my drone that I wanted to share with your kids. I just posted it on Google Classroom, along with the announcement that everyone knows the good news about 4th grade, so they can talk about it on there now. But I think they’ve all logged off for the day so they didn’t see it. If they have a few minutes to get on there on this last day of school, I’d love for them to see that. It’s also available here.

There is also a 30-minute Mystery Doug video on there that they recorded yesterday and asked questions to an astronaut on the International Space Station! I think they’ll really enjoy that, but no rush…they can watch it anytime. In fact, our Google Classroom now says “Mr. Eyre’s 4th Grade Class” and will be available all summer so that we can all stay in contact. Also, if they haven’t had a chance to do their astronomy presentation we’d love to still see that! We have all really enjoyed watching the presentations that have been done so far.

I’m keeping a close watch on the news to see when we’ll be allowed to meet up to launch the rockets. I’ll let you know! I hope you all have a great summer! Please keep in touch! August 3 can’t come soon enough!

With Gratitude
Josh Eyre