Tomorrow is the last day of school with students. (I’ll have at least one more day – likely several – to finish packing up my classroom.) I have been an elementary school classroom teacher for 21 years now. I spent the first 16 years in the same school, teaching three different grade levels. It was an astounding place to work and leaving it was somewhat heartbreaking. Sixteen years meant my colleagues were more family than anything else and the students and their families were too. My own daughters attended that school.
I have been in my current school for five years. When I started there it was so hard because I didn’t know anyone. No one was my family. It didn’t take long to change that. Five years has been plenty of time for me to know and love colleagues and to feel a part of so many families. For the past couple of weeks some second graders have stopped me to ask if they can be in my class next year. It hurt to tell them I won’t be here next year. (I know they’ll be fine. They’ll have fabulous teachers and they’ll learn plenty. They won’t remember they wanted me by September. It still hurt me.)
Change is hard. Endings are hard. This is the 21st year I have sent a class on. (Well, more like the 19th as I looped twice so I was getting those kids back.) I know I’ll be out waving goodbye to our buses tomorrow with tears in my eyes.
I am super excited about next year. I anticipate learning and growing so much as well as bringing my skill set to my new school. The challenges intrigue me.
Twenty-one years of kiddos I have loved and still love. I will cry tomorrow. I will be sad and worn down as I pack up my classroom and reflect on the year.
Then I will take those reflections and all that I have learned this year, and the twenty years before, and begin thinking about the twenty-second group of kiddos.