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"The object of teaching a child... to enable the child to get along without the teacher."

This quote is on a poster hung on the wall of the room I share with Ms. Janice at the preschool where I teach. I've worked with Janice for five years now, with only an ill-fated one-year hiatus during which I taught older threes. For the past two years I've gradually assumed more and more responsibility in the classroom. I write the newsletters, keep a blog, lead circle time. I've shouldered the burden of preparing our classroom portfolio for our school's upcoming NAEYC accreditation. All of this I did because I thought I was doing my job. I thought I was taking care of Janice.

This summer I'm working afternoons while Janice works mornings. In the fall, I won't be working with her at all because I've accepted a different job at a different school.

Today we set up our classrooms for the summertime camp program. I busied myself hanging paper on bulletin boards, stocking the classroom library, gathering paper, crayons, and other art supplies for the cabinet, and bandying about ideas with my coteacher.

At the end of the day I went to Janice's room to tell her goodbye, only to find her in tears, standing amongst the tiny toddler sized chairs.

"I just feel so lost," she said.

I feel like it's all my fault. I have not enabled Janice to get along without me. I thought I was taking care of her when I took on those classroom responsibilities, but I think I was just encouraging her muscles to atrophy. And now I'm leaving.

Then again, maybe I give myself too much credit.


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