Rituals Matter

On my first day back with teachers last week, I received an email from a former student. This was a student from my very first looping class—our class stayed together for first and second grades. There were more special things about this particular group (and this particular student) than I could possibly count, but this story includes one of them. 

This student was writing for two reasons. One, she had just started her very first teaching job (!!!). All kinds of holy moly there that makes me feel super old. . . and, two, she had recently stumbled upon an artifact from elementary school that she wanted to share (see below): 

This rumpled lunch bunch pass was my gift to each second grader on the last day of school. Because this group had grown so tight, I wanted them to be able to come back and visit whenever they needed to. Lunch bunch was a favorite ritual in first and second grades—I loved this relaxed time when kids could eat and be silly together. This is where I got to know them so well. 

Over the years, this student (and others) regularly took me up on this offer, coming back for lunch on Wednesdays as third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. It was awesome to stay connected and to be able to see them grow and change (and in the very best ways, stay the same). 

The last day of school lunch-bunch-for-life pass became a tradition with my next group of looping students. We had to juggle two different days in the week over the next two years (plus a day for the 1st/2nd graders), but it was worth every minute. 

My third group of looping students was pretty bummed when I left at the end of their second grade year to be an instructional coach at a different school. . . After two years of seeing former students lunch bunching on their respective days, they were anticipating their own special day of the week the following year, and they were not happy to learn that the tradition had to end. I felt really guilty about that. 

Seeing that lunch bunch pass again reminds me how much rituals matter in a classroom community. It makes me happy that this is what my former student is thinking about as she sets up her own classroom this year.

I love that she kept this artifact long after it held any practical usefulness, and I love that she took the time to reach out and share it with me.

Because now this is what I’m thinking about as I start my year.

7 Comments

  1. Amanda Potts

    What a wonderful artifact – and how clearly it shows the power of seeing students and the power of ritual. Though I know that you ended up thinking about ritual, I was immediately struck by one of your early lines, “There were more special things about this particular group (and this particular student) than I could possibly count” Isn’t that the joy of teaching? Finding more special things than you can count. May your student find this as she begins her teaching career.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice

    I think sometimes we tend to do things with our students without realizing the impact it makes. While we do things we know are important, we may not immediately know the positive impact it makes until much later. What a touching affirmation from this student.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lainie Levin

    I feel this on such a deep level. YES, Amy. These rituals matter. They create constancy and community. They form the mortar of the relationships we have with our kids, with the relationships they have with one another. It’s amazing to me that former students remember the rituals they do: those Friday lunches in the room, the birthday celebrations, the story times. Those rituals change from year to year, but it does make me smile to know that you have students like this who hold on to them so dearly. Make so much of what we do worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

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