When I first heard the news a couple months ago that our Junior Life Skills class was to close, my immediate thoughts went to my team. By closing our class, our team was being broken apart. This devastated me. For weeks, I was teary every time I thought about my EAs and what this meant for them. This was my work family. We've been together for eight years and it worked. It worked really well. I was very fortunate to have three very efficient, empathetic, and eager women who backed me up EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
As a Life Skills teacher, I often planned and worked in isolation, never having a collaborative teaching partner. Having this team of educational assistants made up for that. They were there to share those glances when you're glad another adult heard what just came out of the mouths of babes. They were there to debrief after behaviour outbursts. They were there with suggestions and ideas to improve the learning for our kids. They were there to share to joys and successes when illiterate students learned to read and write independently. No matter what, they were there.
Not only did these women show up and dig in every day, these women supported me with every after hours event that I ever ran or hosted, including Family Math Night, EdCamp Waterloo Region, Family Technology Night, Cheryl Kewley's "ReTurtlement" Party, and all staff social events. Today, while packing up the Life Skills room, one of my wonderful ladies arrived to help me move some furniture over to the new classroom. Another has texted me every day to see how I've been recovering. Even after school is out and the program closed, I still feel connected to and cared for by these women. They also supported me personally when ever there was a family emergency, health crisis, or personal loss. Like I said, they were my work family. I will miss them immensely.
Yesterday I grieved for the loss of the classroom kitchen. Today, I am reminded of the loss of my work-family-unit. These relationships matter! This has been the toughest part of saying goodbye to Life Skills. Initially this particular loss was gut-wrenching. With time, I've come to accept that change is inevitable and I know that each of our team members will excel at our new positions next year. I am richer for having had this work family. With sincerest gratitude, thanks for the memories!