This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate.
Years ago, it was the last day of school and my intern started a compliment circle with our class. Each person would choose one other person to gift a compliment. I crossed my fingers that nobody would feel left out. A boy, I’ll call him Dave, raised his hand to go first. Dave had seemed to not care about school much all year. He sometimes gave a little attitude, and he struggled with getting his work done. I tried to hold him accountable, and I definitely felt that I wasn’t one of his favorite people. Dave looked over and said, “I choose Mrs. Thought.” and proceeded to tell me how I was his favorite teacher, and how much he appreciated me.
I believe I celebrated that by crying. Ends of school years have always been emotional for me. I am pretty sure I scared my second graders at the end of my first year of teaching. I sobbed as they left the classroom for their summer. I couldn’t believe the year was over, the kids were leaving — and I didn’t have a job lined up for the next year yet! The year before last I watched as more than half of my students started crying and hugging each other before the final bell rang. That time had very little to do with me — they were just that close. I’ll never forget the 6th grade girls and boys just breaking down because 6th grade was over! When things end, I think it’s easier to appreciate what you had. I often think of it as the summer camp phenomenon, and I see it play out in June each year: This ride we’ve been on together is over, we will never be able to replicate it, and man that was a fun and crazy time!
This year, I got my June day in January. Friday was my last day with my students as their teacher. (Monday I start as an instructional coach for the rest of the year.)
After telling my classes and their parents about the upcoming change, we had a mini June at school. Everyone suddenly loved me! And, the feeling was definitely mutual. I have loved my classes all year – that’s no lie. But looking at them through the eyes of someone about to leave. . . I should have just played dramatic movie soundtracks in the background for the last few weeks; everything they said was so important and meaningful. As they shared the books they were reading I had to hush an inner voice shouting at me, “Stay! Abort mission! Don’t leave these amazing people!” But, as one of the parents told me in an email: Opportunity knocks at complicated times. I’m so excited about my new opportunity, much to celebrate in that as well! But this week was about saying goodbye.
I’m trying to live in the present — never have been one for filming things instead of just living them. However, I wish I had a camera rolling Friday during 8th period. If you’ve never had a 6th grade boy tell you with all his heart that what you’ve done means so much, if you’ve never had one hug you and tell you he loves you and that things won’t be the same without you… If you have never had a gaggle of 11 year old girls tell you that they will miss you, that the new teacher will “always be number 2, Mrs. Thought!…” I don’t know if you can understand. If you haven’t had a student play some sort of sad classical piece on his chromebook and march it towards your desk, if you haven’t had a kid run to the bathroom crying because you’re leaving… I’m not sure I can explain it to you.
Of course, I’m not celebrating that these kids are sad — I know their emotions are true right now. I also know that they will be okay. Their new teacher is passionate, excited and ready for the challenge that is 6th grade. They will love her, and I will still be around in the building. It’s all good.