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.