Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beginnings, Endings, and Farewells

For me, it's the hardest part of teaching.

We had a frenzied Friday, with sixth grade graduation at 10 a.m. Handing out yearbooks and collecting the straggler's money took up until about 9:30. Somewhere around 9:55, as I was frantically stuffing report cards that the computer refused to print until the last minute into envelopes, we realized we were missing one of the student's promotion certificates.

"Go ask Mrs. D to print another! (Since my printer has been broken for the last month.) Then sprint to the offices and get it signed! Ok, how fast can you all line up in alphabetical order by last name! We're late!" (In case you're wondering, not very fast.)

Ok, we made it. Somebody tells me, "Ms. M, you have to open the ceremony." (What! Didn't anyone else think about my paralyzing fear of public speaking!)

It runs smoothly and I get too caught up in being proud of the students sitting in the front rows to think about all the other people behind them. I make stuff up and steal lines from the 45 graduations I've been to in the past few years.

Hugs, photographs, goodbyes. Packing up the room with the handful of students who stuck around after graduation. Dealing with last minute nonsense of students deciding to sign each other's shirts with inappropriate content. Carrying stuff out to my car.

And then the drive home, and the music, and the more than 30 seconds to sit down makes me realize how sad I am, and the tears fall. What will become of them all? And I'm surprised that I'm sad. I've only been with these kids for 3 months. But I guess if you spend most of your waking moments with people. They're so funny and smart and unsure of themselves and yet confident. They drove me nuts and made me laugh and gave me a few gray hairs. And then, they're just off. And for most, if not all of them, I'll never know what comes next.

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work.
It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years."
~Jacques Barzun

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