Turning Goodbye into Good Luck...How to Say Goodbye to a Student


This is my ninth year in first grade, and I can honestly say that every year has made me grow and change so much. This year, I geared up for the first days of first grade just as I always do...preparing activities, community builders, and classroom routines to set the year up for success. I imagined getting back into a blogging routine...sharing my classroom tour, writing about our exciting back to school activities, and sharing lots and lots of pictures. Little did I know that this year, I would have a first grade friend join my class who would change everything...what I thought I knew about working with children with behavioral needs, the sense of community already in place within my classroom of 22 first graders, and even my attitude about coming to school each day.

I'm not going to lie--the first few days with this student in my class were hard. So hard. It literally took every ounce of patience I had in my being to interact with him due to his frequent outbursts, acts of defiance, and tendency to act out in ways that neither I nor my students would have predicted.  I cried. I prayed. I reminded myself that "The kids who need the most love often ask for it in the most unloving of ways" and that he was not at fault for the situation he was currently in. I accepted the kind offers of support and assistance from anyone in the building who might offer, and gradually, I started to feel like maybe this child was put into my classroom for a bigger reason.


After about a week, we came into a sense of routine. While the tantrums and outbursts were still frequent, the rest of the class and I became accustomed to them, and we learned how to function even amidst what sometimes seemed like chaos. Soon, I learned that my student's time with us was limited, and this led to a whole range of emotions. Frustration with his situation, hope that he would soon get the help that he so desperately needed, worry that his future was so uncertain, and even guilt for feeling that soon the rest of the class and I would experience some "relief" and things could get back to "normal" in our first grade world.

In the days approaching my student's departure, I started thinking about how my class and I would be able to say goodbye to him.  I wanted the experience for him as well as the rest of my class to be positive, and I wanted him to feel the love and hope that we had for him as he moved on.  So, I decided that we would make a class book of our best wishes. I had each student write a letter of good luck and best wishes, and I wrote a letter at the front of the book that included our school address so that he could keep in contact with us.


When the students and I gave him his Good Luck Book, his face beamed! He was so happy to have something special to remember his classmates, and I was thrilled to see some happiness in this child who has struggled so much.  In writing to their friend, my students achieved a sense of closure, and I really think this made the transition much easier for everyone.  This simple little activity made this such a positive experience, that I cannot imagine saying goodbye to any other students without it. While goodbyes are hard, it certainly does make everyone feel better to feel a sense of belonging and good will for the future.


If you would like to download an Editable Good Luck Book to save for any goodbyes that you might have in your future, please stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store for the FREE download. I hope that it makes things a little easier for you and your students as you have to say goodbye to a good friend!

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