Good bye.


The end of the school year is such a mixed bag of emotions.

I am so tired.  My knees hurt. My back hurts.  My brain is literally leaking out my nose at this point.

I can’t manage on more checkmark on one more checklist.  I can barely put one foot in front of the other.

Next fall, my classroom will be moving to a new location in our school.  This means that every book, folder, file, video, science unit, puzzle, stapler, paper clip and thumb tack has been packed and boxed up.

I want to be all done.

I NEED to be all done!

But I don’t want to be all done with these kids.   I want to take a nice vacation, recharge my badly flagging batteries, sleep for about a week, reintroduce myself to my elliptical machine, read a trashy novel, and then come back.

To these kids.

You see, I have thought about these 25 children every day for the past ten months.  I have woken up at night worried about their math skills.  I have spent Sunday afternoons finding interesting history sites with them in mind.  I’ve read books that they have  recommended, and then talked with them over lunch about the authors and the characters. I’ve played games with them, and learned games from them. I’ve yelled at them, laughed with them, hugged them and scolded them.

For the past ten months, they’ve been my closest companions.  Truly.

My own children are grown and gone.  I see my husband in the evening, but only for a few hours before I fall asleep.   I have friends who I see twice a month, siblings who I see more rarely.  I visit my Mom every Thursday, and my children visit me less than I would like.

I spend five days a week with my students.

I don’t know how sad it is to say this, but the people who I laugh with the most are those 25 kids who come into my classroom every day.  We tell each other stories about our lives. We kid each other about our fashion choices, our silly mistakes and our lunches.  We form little private jokes, and we make up our own quirky rituals.

For ten months, I was the facilitator of a group that supported each member, grew together, shared joys and sorrows and victories and losses.  As is true every year, for ten months my heart and soul and nearly all of my energy went into creating, sustaining and enjoying the little community of our classroom.

But every year June comes around, and suddenly, there is no more class.  Our little group has been dissolved, and we are no longer that happy community who laughed at the rutabaga math problem last September.  We are, instead, a group of individuals, each heading off in a different direction.

And my heart is just so heavy.

I am happy for my vacation.  I am pleased with a job well done.  I am excited for my students, knowing that they are headed off to sixth grade with a solid grounding and a good set of skills.

But I am so incredibly sad to realize that in only two more school days, I will no longer have a place in their lives, and I will no longer be the one who shares their jokes and stories.

Good bye, fifth graders!  I am surely going to miss you.

17 thoughts on “Good bye.

  1. Fifth grade was an important year for me and for my son. I fonlly remember Mrs. Ganley, just as Jacob fonly remembers Mrs Chewning. More importantly, those teachers, more than most other grande teachers, stayed with both of us. Your class isn’t gone, it’s in their hearts.

    You must be the most amazing teacher ever!

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    • I always worry when I write these posts about school, that people think I am bragging or fishing……I write them because I started the blog as a place to express all my outsized emotionalism.
      I am far, far from the best teacher I know. In so many ways! But what I do well is that I fall in love with the class every year. And I feel like I become their second mom/Grandma, just for those few months.
      Every June is an empty nest trauma.

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      • This comment didn’t show up in my bubble thing-y. I’m on the road…

        You don’t sound like you’re fishing at all. You’re expressing your emotions rather beautifully, actually. You and i write about our experiences as mothers, daughters, wives and workers. That doesn’t mean we are the best at any of these — or that we think we are. It means we have a story in our hearts to tell.

        But I really do think that 5th grade is a really important year. It’s kind of the last year of a part of childhood. When you’re in 6th, you are at the top of the school. A big kid. Everybody looks up to you. In 5th you don’t yet have that responsibility. And then of course jr. High. How I wish I could have put my son into suspended animation for those years!

        I am really quite sure that you are a great teacher though. You can’t love something so much without being good at it. So there (do you hear me blow in’ raspberries?)

        Xx

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  2. Ah, but they’ll remember you forever. I have some very intense, formative memories of my teachers in the elementary school years. Some of my teachers shaped me in very major, positive ways.

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    • Thank you, Jisun! I know that I remember some teachers with real affection, too, and I have no doubt that all of us touch and shape the kids in some way.
      Its just that I really miss the every day contact with people I have come to care so much about.
      I’m not so good with change, can you tell?

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  3. What you don’t know is you do have a place in their lives. Do you know how much I still think about many of my teachers? Boy, I wonder how old their kids are now and I’m so grateful to the ones who reached out to me and pushed me. One tiny moment can have an impact. I imagine it’s like an empty nest every June, but look forward to a new flock each fall. 🙂

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    • Thanks! I know that teachers’ influence stays with kids (I still remember so many of mine!) but in June I just feel selfish; I want to keep the kids I love right now, even knowing that next year I will love different kids…..

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    • And isn’t it funny? In June when I think of the current fourth graders, it doesn’t seem like I could ever like them as much as this group. In September, I invariably wonder why I thought that in June.

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      • I consider that to be one of the great pleasures of working in a teaching and learning environment. When people work together toward a common goal strong bonds of friendship are formed. That’s precisely why I chose this profession–we never have to really ask ‘why?’ the answer is built right in. That said, a break from it during the summer is essential.

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  4. What a wonderful commentary on your year with those kids. It’s true. We spend most of our waking hours with these children, worrying about them, thinking about them, laughing with them and then…bam…it’s over. And people wonder why teacher’s get defensive when someone slams their job. It’s not just a job…it’s our life. Congratulations on your year and enjoy your summer!

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