Tomorrow’s my official last day as a teacher. Sure, I might drop by the building purely out of habit throughout the summer, but tomorrow is the day I say goodbye to my classroom, which has been my safe haven, my hell, my entire life for about 730 days.
It’s strange. I don’t know what to say, besides the cliche: I have learned countless things about myself, my students’ amazingly complex lives, and the education system. What I have learned about the education system, I think I can safely say, is a pretty good insight into how the world works. And it really doesn’t work well.
I’ve been uplifted from the lowest lows, inspired, and loved. I’ve also been disrespected, trampled, and experienced more anger over these past 2 years than I have in my life. But how can I summarize this experience? This was the question I tried to answer at interviews last winter, and no doubt the question I will continue to answer during every icebreaker or orientation week that I experience in the future. I guess I’ll just say this: it’s been an adventure, one that I never imagined I would take and embarked upon rather haphazardly…and one that I would not trade for the world.
It’s also interesting to look back on how far I’ve come: that I thought in September of my first year that this was a classroom fight. That I will probably never stop having teacher dreams for the rest of my life, and am finally okay with it. That by September of my second year the up-and-down roller coaster of one day and the daily angry outbursts from student X no longer fazed me. That this is far from the craziest thing I have heard in the classroom. That I can now respond to minor misbehaviors in class in a way that gets the whole class laughing at the joker who opened his or her mouth in the first place. I only hope that in my future life I’ll have some place to exercise these strange skills that we teachers have learned to cultivate and master.
Most of all, I’m going to miss the familiar niche I’ve carved out for myself in this funny little city. The routine of waking up at 7, eating my morning cereal, being startled by the wind on my face as I bike down 14th St., greeting everyone at the front desk, checking my mailbox, trudging up the stairs to 203, running down my mental list of things I need to prep before the bell rings, hearing the low rumble of kids’ voices drifting from the stairwell, and finally that dreaded sound signaling the start to another hectic day responding to the requests of 30 little minds and bodies who all want something different….
Part of me is glad it’s over. But I’m going to miss it, a lot.