I gave these sunglasses as a gift to my students. You can download “My Future’s So Bright I Have to Wear Shades” for free by clicking here.
I just finished my 12th year of teaching. In some ways, it seems like I started teaching a few years ago, but then I remember that my first group of students graduated last year. That makes me feel old.
In elementary school, by the last day, our classrooms have become like a close family. We have spent the past year working together, helping one another, learning how to be good friends and how to resolve conflicts, laughing, and even dancing (thanks to gonoodle.com). I spend more time with my students and co-workers than I do my own family.
At my school, on the last day, it’s tradition for the entire staff to line up outside to wave goodbye to the kids. The buses all leave at the same time in a single-file line while honking their horns. The bus windows are down, and as the buses pull away, hundreds of kids are all waving back while shouting the names of their teachers. For once, we, as teachers, feel like celebrities.
At this point, many teachers’ eyes fill with tears of joy…not just because summer is starting, but because seeing our students express their love back to us reminds us that all of our hard work throughout the year was worth it.
You would think that all the kids would be happy as they leave for summer break, but every year I see kids waving back with tears running down their faces. This is when tears of joy mix with tears of sadness, and the last day becomes bittersweet.
It’s at this moment I’m reminded that not all kids look forward to summer break. At school, we have tried to create a safe environment where our kids’ basic needs are taken care of and where they are encouraged every day.
Our classrooms have become like a family, and summer break means our family will no longer be together. For many kids, this can tough, but it’s even more difficult for those kids with challenging home situations. These are the kids I think about the most over the summer. Even after our students leave our classrooms, we continue to think about them and care about them.
While I look forward to summer, I always miss the kids. As teachers, we love our students and do everything we can to set them up for success. Then, they move on and we trust that the next teacher will love and care for them just as much.
Today, was very bittersweet, especially since I will be moving to a new building next year. There were many tears and hugs, and as one of my students left he said to me, "I will always love you." It was the sweetest moment. I responded, "I will always love you too." That was the perfect way to end the last day of school.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.