My classroom is ready for summer now. All the student desks are pushed together, the computer is unplugged, the bulletin boards blank, the cabinets filled with miscellaneous office supplies, and the door is locked. As of 6:40 pm yesterday, I’m officially done with my 23rd year of teaching.
Each year brings its own successes and challenges, with one of the biggest challenges being the last week of school with a group of eighth graders excited, but still nervous, to become high schoolers. Every year I try to embrace the last few days, and this year I truly did.
I don’t know what was different, but this past week didn’t seem as trying to me. Sure there were times when I was forced to take a deep breath before reacting, but even those moments only needed me to pause for one breath, not 10 or 20. Part of me thinks it’s because I have a graduate in the house and can compare senioritis with eighth-grade-itis, but then again, there’s lots of events this past year that helped me to react differently to each moment (Growing Down, Barometer Check). This past week I relished each positive more, especially yesterday. Who can’t help but laugh and smile when four of her students dress up as Greasers Dally, Sodapop, Ponyboy and Johnny on the last day of school just because? Or when the students put her desk chair on the standing desk because, “You said to get as much as possible off the floor.” Or a few minutes later when there’s a student sitting in the same chair even though the chair is still on the standing desk? “Look we gave her a heart attack!” Or when that one kid sees her in the parking lot and says, “Thank you,” twice because she didn’t think she heard it correctly the first time? Yes, these were the moments that made me feel a little more sentimental this year, yet I still know it’s time to let go. As I tell my colleagues and students’ parents, “They’re ready. They need to move on. If they didn’t act this way or I didn’t feel ready for them to leave, I wouldn’t feel as though I’ve done my job.”
PS: As I prepared to post this, I happened to read Bud the Teacher’s post. He summed up what I’ve been doing, “take the time to notice and appreciate when things go right, too.” What difference it makes.