Today was the first day that Stanley wasn't in my class this year. He'd been absent before. He'd been tardy more times than I could count, but this was the first day that I knew that he wouldn't be coming. Stanley moved. There was even a little note on my roll sheet that said "transferred."
Will I miss him? Not for a while. I confess that the time I saved simply not having to remind him not to lean back in his chair today earned me (and subsequently the rest of the class) an extra five minutes. I didn't have to have this discussion either: "Stanley, take out your spelling book." "I'm fixin' to." "Please do it now." "I'm fixin' to." "Please stop 'fixin' and get it out so the rest of the class can move on." "I'm fixin' to."
By the end of the day, there was a number of things I was "fixin'" to do to Stanley. I begged and bargained and pleaded and hollered and joked and encouraged and used all the management tricks I could recall to try and cajole a good day out of him. I threatened phone calls home when he came without homework and refused to do it during recess. I tried any number of times to reach his mother to set up a conference to talk about his behavior and grades. He had all the classic kid dodges, including the most obvious one - his mom just didn't care enough to make the time to connect with his teacher. His was the one report card that went unclaimed from the first grading period.
Last week Stanley's mom came up to the school long enough to transfer him to another school in another town. I'm not going to have to send him next door to the second grade class for time-outs anymore. I'm not going to have to show him the difference between "b" and "d" anymore. I'm not going to be teaching Stanley anymore. In my class, each student has his or her name on a popsicle stick that we use to pick teams or who will answer the next question. We also have clothespins with each student's name on a behavior chart - Stanley's spent a lot of time down the "Warning" quadrant. On Friday I handed him his popsicle stick and his clothespin. I told him that I was his teacher now, and I always would be. I told him that I wanted him to make me proud of him.
Do I miss Stanley? Not yet. But I will.