The End of the School Year

Around this time of year, I start feeling sentimental.

I look at the faces of my students as they finish their last days of the school year and I know all they are thinking is, “I cannot wait for what comes next!”  They are planning their near futures, and they are not in the moment, and I suddenly feel sad.  Even though I see 127 students a day, I find that I have made a connection, on some level, with almost all of them.  As with every year, I end this year knowing I have a strong bond with a few of the students with whom I have grown particularly fond of, and I hope that they are the type of people who will think that staying in touch with a former teacher is not too nerdy.

Today, at two different points, I found myself just taking them in.  It is something I do with my own children, when I just stop and allow myself experience the people they have become.  It’s always at a time when they are experiencing something and my heart says, “Stop.  Look.  Breath this moment in.  Remember it.  Store it away.  You have helped mold these people.”  I cannot help but smile because I am, as they say, living in the moment, and I am undeniably happy just to be alive and had had the opportunity to experience them.  Today, I forced myself to take a mental snapshot– to remember their faces, their smiles, and their personalities.

For my students, these moments in high school are just the stepping-stones and the building blocks to get them into real life.  For me, though, it’s different.  These moments are my life, and over the course of 180 days, I have gotten to know them not only as students, but as people.

We have shared stories and shared memories.  We have inside jokes.  I have heard the gossip, and every once in a while, I have taken part in on the conversation.  I have gotten over the fact that they walked through my classroom door thinking I was some uncool, middle-aged woman.   They have grown as people and have come to realize that age is relative, and I have to think that some of them feel the way I do: If we were the same age, we would be friends.

I know that many of these students will be nothing more than fond memories.  Every once in a while, I will hear about one of them, and think, “Wow, So and So has a job now.”  “So and So is getting married!”  “So and So is having a baby!”  I will, from the distant past, cheer their victories.

Yes, the next few days are the hardest part of the year.  These people with whom I have forged relationships are going to be quite literally ripped out of my life.  It’s like a divorce, and it makes me maudlin and reminiscent.  I have only been a part of their lives for an hour a day for a school year.   It is nothing to most, but it is something to me, and like any good mother bird, I have to let go and watch them fly away from my comfortable nest so that they can continue to grow into the amazing adults I envision them becoming.

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3 thoughts on “The End of the School Year

  1. This is what makes you a good teacher….and mother … and person.

    I think many (most) try to understand how hard it is to teach, the scarifies that teachers make … but this is the first I think, that I have heard of someone talking about the end of the school year this way. It is both sad and wonderful.

    My daughter has a favorite teacher… I think I will tell her to write her a note or something this summer. (Though I have to figure out how to get her that note. Question – would it be inappropriate to look her address up and have my daughter mail her a note? Would you find that sort of eerie that someone might do that? My perspective as a single mom errs on the side of caution a lot….so a bit of clarification would help. Just to let you know, my daughter is 13, this particular teacher helped her a lot outside of class – still a school activity, but something that was beyond her call of duty so to speak.)

    • I do think it would be a little weird if a student looked up my address. I think the best idea would be for her to give her the note on the last day of school. Every once and a while I get a note from a student. I have a box I keep them in, and when I am feeling bad or frustrated, I take them out and read them. Knowing that I made a difference in even one life makes my job worthwhile.

      • Ok…I am SUPER glad I asked. In fact, I will also ask the Admin office later next week too. There are a lot of rules now … so I will check. (I remember bringing all kinds of stuff to school when I was little. Treats, etc.) Now they discourage that unless its wrapped, and you have one for every child for sure.

        Still, thank you for answering…very much appreciated nod nods.

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