>Today was the last day of school, and at the end of the day the students had a rapid release fire drill in which they had to exit the building and go directly to the buses or whatever form of transportation was taking them home. In the front of the building there were hugs and a few tears, then they were gone, just like that. It’s hard to believe that it is all over, and that the next time I step into a classroom in front of students, it will just be me. My mentor teacher got me a really nice teacher planner, but I’m trying not to let myself think too far ahead. For now, I am just treasuring moments like this one, from today.
Last week, Titus verbally confronted another student in class over something the other kid had said about Titus’ family. Titus has always been quiet and well-behaved in class, so I knew that something must have actually happened. When I talked to him later, being sure to commend the self-control he did choose to exercise, Titus told me how much he missed seeing his extended family, and that one cousin had contracted hepatitis C from using a dirty needle and another had a dangerous pregnancy. The strain of worrying about his relatives finally got to him on Tuesday, though, when he got in a fight with another student at lunch. I happened to catch him being escorted to the office by our guidance counselor, and he told me that he was being sent home for the rest of the school year. I told him how sorry I was to see him go and wished him the best. Inside, though, I was more than sorry–I was pretty much crushed…Titus had inexplicably nestled a little deeper in my heart than most of his classmates. After school let out today, I was saying goodbye to students in front of the school when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and there was Titus! “I came back to get my Epi-pen,” he said before I wrapped him in a bear hug. I told him again how glad I was to see him and wished him well, and then he too, was gone.
I’ve been having separation anxiety since last week, and I’ve often wondered whether I was wise to choose a profession where the forever-goodbye is a frequent occurrence. While it is no doubt going to be difficult, I also realize that as often as I say goodbye, I also get to say hello, and the relationship that grows between hello and goodbye is what makes it all worthwhile. Goodbye wouldn’t hurt if the relationship weren’t meaningful, and I guess that the strict finiteness of the relationship makes it all the more precious. To turn the words of Maia Sharp around, “I’m suddenly seeing that every ending means something else is beginning.” My students will be high schoolers, and I will be a real teacher…all in good time, of course.