Today was my last day of teaching my students. The last day of school is already an emotional affair, especially for 8th graders who are now embarking on a journey into high school, but remember, I’ve been with my students the past two years and a majority of them have been with each other for the past three.
I am the kind of person that can easily dissect other people’s practice, but it’s hard to dissect mine. On one hand, I had students do an informal evaluation form for me (Keep, Change, Stop, Start), and honestly, it was pretty sad. I felt so sad because their suggestions were valid. Yes, to a certain point, there were certain policies that I would change if I could – only that the school wouldn’t allow it – but other points were really on me. (Many students felt that I should stop yelling and clarify homework more). It’s sad. How crappy must it be to be confused in class and have a teacher who blows her fuse regularly by the end of the day? I am hoping that this was due in part to the environment, and that a new environment could help me change.
On the other hand, I honestly had kids from other classes (and from mine) declaring that I was one of the greatest or their favorite or their favorite with a disclaimer (ie: Favorite teacher who brought lots of suffering; I think you’re now my favorite teacher, barely; You’re my second favorite teacher – after my 1st grade teacher). So, I know I’m doing something right. Yet is it just because they have nothing better to compare with?
I feel like this year, I got better about yelling. Hopefully every year, this will get better.
I did ask for forgiveness on the last day of school to my class, for my tongue, for my angry outbursts, and … oh darn it! I forgot to tell them that I TRIED! Man! I had this epic speech planned, but as usual, there were lots of random things to do, so the school day ended in a sweep.
Today we finished Glory and I don’t think the kids liked it. In general, I’m realizing that maybe the reason why there are remakes of movies are because people don’t watch them in the same way that we do! And their attention needs to be caught a different way. Whatever, I digress.
Then we had an epic raffle/auction, we had an awards ceremony, we had silly awards, I gave out books that I got for each one of them, and we cleaned the room. Then right before my slideshow, this inspirational speaker came early. Honestly, I liked the speaker a lot. BUT… REALLY? ON THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL?
We had 2 minutes left and kids stayed late to watch the slideshow. But, as technology would have it, it was pretty laggy. Different kids left bit by bit and I made sure to give each of them a hug. Then, one of my enigmas (a large, stoic, semi-stern boy) came to say goodbye and I saw that his face was awash in tears, and I had to cry too. Then another of my girls (she is the only one being retained this year because she stopped doing work after 1st quarter, pretty much), began to cry when I told her she could contact me for anything, and I just cried too because I wish I could’ve been there more for her.
It was truly bittersweet, and nothing kicked in until I saw four boys a block away, walking away, and I realized, they are walking away for good.
In the car I cried, because I was just awash with regret. I wish I could have done more because I could have. I could have been more patient, taken care of myself better, been more on top of things so as not to snap when I’m disorganized, and I could have really tried and not allowed my kids to step down . I think especially of the aforementioned boy and girl. This year, I sent the boy to a 7th grade math class because he had been low last year and this year he was low, didn’t turn in work, and agreed that going down would be best. The girl was retained and I was just sick of how slow she worked (when she’s actually very smart.. just every week, she’d get slower and slower). Yet, I could have been there more.
I think I prioritized the kids who were behavioral and academic issues, so I would always try to talk to them and figure them out and work with them, and because the boy and girl were relatively well-behaved, I did not step out and be with them and guide them and lead them as much as I could have. And I just cried because I could have done more.
And no, this is not your cue to say, “Aww, you’re such a great teacher, you did your best.” I understand I did my best, and I understand that I am above average. Just, it’s, in this neighborhood, they need more, and at the end of the day, I wasn’t selfless, I wasn’t an aroma of Christ. I know that there were many occasions where my selfishness oozed from my actions yet it was coated by the artificial mask of teach-y charity.
I honestly do feel a lot of loss right now. In a sense, I think I feel a tiny fraction of what parents go through when they send their child to college- except this is with 24 of them.