Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Tribute To My Students

So here I sit, in the beginning hours of another summer vacation. This was my last year in my four year tenure as a 5th grade teacher, at least for now. Next year I'll be venturing down the hallway (a journey that started this morning with many hours of boxing, taping, and moving items from one room to the other) into the world of 4th grade. I will be looping my future 4th graders, all 28+ of them, to 5th grade, and couldn't be more excited about the challenge that awaits.

Yesterday I cried. It's hard to believe, but with about 30 minutes left in the day, I gave my traditional end of the year speech to my outgoing 5th graders, and found myself looking in the faces of mature young people who grew up before my very eyes this year, and I lost it. In past years, I've choked up a little, but this year the tears flowed.

Something I've always known about myself is that I form deep attachments to the people I care about. My students become like members of my family, at least for the time that they're with me. Of course they move on, and many of them, most of them actually, get on with their lives and will soon forget the majority of our time together, but many of them come back to visit and seem to look back on our time together with fond memories. After I stopped the water works and finished my speech, they cried as well. We had a fitting last few minutes together, and they went on their way. It was a great year, the best of my career, and now it's time to head home for some rest.

I also said goodbye to my student teacher yesterday. Although he could have left the class at the first of May, he stayed to finish the year out with us. I know that he felt the attachment to the students in our class as deeply as I did. He became a close friend during this semester, and I am deeply saddened by the fact that we will no longer be working together.

Now I sit here, just one day later, looking out into the yard, smelling the rain and feeling the coolness on my face, thinking back on the latest group of young men and women who are ready for the next steps in their lives, and already thinking ahead to what awaits me in August, and I'll tell you, this is why I became a teacher. For those of you who share my passion for teaching and cry on the last day of school when you say goodbye to your students, I stand with you.


Anonymous said...

I teach high school. As nuts as my high schoolers drive me, I am always a little wistful at the end. It seems that in those last couple of weeks, I have finally broken through, we understand each other, only to say goodbye as they move on to dance the dance with someone new. I understand how you feel. I have four days left this week and cannot wait to begin my summer break.