“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” ~ Margaret Fuller
We have one week left of school. It’s always been a little odd for me to have a profession that ends and begins every year. I’m not sure how it affects the kids, except they seem to get a little bonkers about this time. Knowing the end is so close seems to bring up all kinds of conscious and unconscious feelings.
One of my 8th grade students recently asked me if I was coming back into the classroom one more time. I had thought I was done for the year in terms of classroom guidance, however, I asked him what he thought should be the topic. He replied that since they were going on to high school, they needed some kind of sending off, releasing from middle school, a launching into the next phase of their lives.
Yes, they were going to have a ceremony, a capstone, where their peers were going to share “reflections” of their middle school years and musical performances, which are often quite inspiring; however, he was asking for some sending words from me. This really intrigued me; yes, I want to do this…I just needed to think of how.
So here’s my plan. I want to begin with the story of the boy who carefully watched a caterpillar spin its cocoon. However, when it was time for the butterfly to emerge, he couldn’t stand watching the creature struggle and so he cut the butterfly free with some scissors, and in his effort to help, he actually crippled the butterfly who would now, never be able to fly. The butterfly needed to struggle as it pushed through the tiny hole of the cocoon in order to be a fully functioning butterfly.
I want to let the students know that we understand how hard life in middle school may have been for them; that they may have struggled academically, socially, and emotionally. However, there is real value in the struggle; they are developing wings to fly. If they can embrace the struggles they will continue to encounter in life, they will discover greater and greater capacity for a full life.
Then I’ll play a video of the song “Stand by me” created by Playing for Change. Because of the struggles we encounter in life, there is value in building a community of support. They are going to need each other, and need to be there for one another. I want to remind them that we, their educators, have been and will continue to be there as well.
Please share other ideas; what would you, or have you done or said, to celebrate your students’ journey of transformation?
Note: this post originally appeared in our Courage in Schools blog. Please visit and subscribe for more!