Well, we’re currently in the last few days of the last year of my current teaching position. It is both beautiful and sad.
If you know me, you’re aware that I cry at pretty much every function that involves my students. Maybe that’s because this was my first teaching job ever. It’s possible that when I have a few more years under my belt, I’ll grow out of it. But, honestly, I hope that’s not the case.
These are not sad tears. Every happy (albeit embarrassing) sob at a graduation or sniffle during a student’s speech reminds me how honored I am to teach. They are an outward projection of the humility I feel when someone tells me that I’ve made a difference. They are proof of how much I care about each and every one of the young people that has ever sat in my classroom. And I hope I never reach a point where I no longer feel them well from my eyes at something beautiful.
Remember this speech that I gave at Junior/Senior Banquet? I sobbed my way through that to the point where I’m not even sure the people I was speaking to know what I said. At graduation last week I had more mascara on my cheeks by the end of the ceremony than on my lashes. Today I got a hug from an especially loved student, and it took ALL of my willpower not to get tears on her shoulder. I’m a crier. I know this. So I really expected this past week to be filled with tears. Happy ones, but still… I considered water-proofing the textbooks, just in case.
But there haven’t been tears. Or at least not many. Instead, this week has been filled with stories and memories. Giggles. Silliness. Every wonderful story that has taken place in my classroom bubbled its way into our discussions at least once in the last few days. And it has been wonderful.
For example, one student reminded me of the time that there were turkeys in my front yard last year, and how I was almost unable to cross the street (birds freak me out). My absolutely abysmal basketball skills have always been a source of amusement for the students, and I can’t tell you how many of them offered to help me get better if I come back to visit. Not a few students admitted they’ll miss my Riddles of the Day (I wasn’t even sure they liked those). So many stories from the last three years danced their way through our reminiscing, each tale more entertaining and sillier than the last.
The walls are blank now. The student artwork and Celtic posters that normally decorate my space are in boxes and cupboards. The “Question of the Week” board is filled with goodbyes. For the first time in a long time, my room no longer looks like my room. But it is not empty.
I am grateful that the last several
weeks YEARS have filled that room with so many amazing stories and discussions. So many great times. Weird questions. Weirder answers. Philosophical conundrums. I do not doubt that I will always cry at graduations and dances and speeches in the future. But the more I think about it, the more I’m sure that the tears are just leaving so that they can make room for the memories.