Today is the last day of school and I feel torn between sadness and relief. It has been a good year, but also very challenging. I suppose that is why I enjoy teaching so much. We essentially do the same thing year after year, and yet we really don’t because each group of children is so different. Each student brings a little bit of personality and experience to the group that makes each class unique. So this year, and my teaching, was a little different from the year before.
What makes me sad at the end of year is the idea that some of my students aren’t quite as ready for the next challenge as they should be, and I can’t do anything more to prepare them. I’ve tried. I’ve tried so very hard. However, I’ve learned the hard way that I am only a tiny piece of the puzzle that creates the big picture called education. Parents have to do their part. The students have to accept some responsibility. The rest of the education community plays a part. We are the village that sends each child out into the world. And then I read just last weekend that some research suggests that a student’s peers have more of an impact on his success than either his parents or teachers. What a concept to ponder!
I’m also sad because some of my students have been such a joy and now I have to let them go on to bless another teacher. Of course there will be “hall hugs” as they go to recess and lunch. I got three of those yesterday from former students! And I have listened to them brag all year about what great readers they are and how many points they have earned in first grade. Music to my ears! This year I’m sending on four of the best students I’ve had in years. I can’t wait to hear what they achieve next year.
As usual I’m relieved to have just completed another year! The school year is like a race and we all work hard to cross the finish line. Some years have been a personal challenge for me. I don’t like to be sick or absent or have too many outside problems that might interfere with my dedication to my class. One year my grandmother died and a student’s mother died- we cried together every other week for months. One year I had surgery and was absent for eight weeks. Another year I had a serious accident. Not years to remember fondly! So a year that was basically “uneventful” has been a blessing.
One of the best things about teaching in a small community is that I will at least get to see most of my students for several more years and witness the growth and change that takes place in their lives. They won’t go far to complete their education. In the city this might be the end of my association with them. One of the first schools I taught in was in Texas and our building contained only pre-k and kindergarten classes. The students then went on to another school across town. Here they will be next door and I can check on their progress whenever I want. I hope that parents and other teachers appreciate the security that a small school gives our students.
So…happy-sad, happy-sad, but mostly happy!
You know what they say, “It’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings!”
Tomorrow after the awards assembly I’ll be singing all the way home!