Another year over -- seemingly soon after it began, though the calendar says otherwise. As my funny, beautiful, struggling, amazing, and challenging first graders prepare to leave on the last day of school, I have so many questions.
Where did the time go? Who took that five dollar bill off my desk in January? How do 12 sharpened pencils disappear within the first 12 minutes of school? What do they hear when I say, "Stay in your seat?" because they certainly don't do it.
What could I have done better? Why did I lose my patience so often? Will they read over the summer? Will they eat enough? And why, why, why, isn't every single one of them reading at grade level? And why don't they have standarized test scores that accurately portray how very far they have come?
If you're asking some of these same questions, here's the thing: it's okay. We do what we can do.
I don't know about you, but I have never, ever, not even once in nineteen years of teaching, come home less than tired. Most days, I'm exhausted. Most days, I spend at least part of my lunch time cursing the clock and eating on the go. Ditto planning time.
So, as the year ends and you walk gratefully (and tearfully) out of your classroom for the summer, ask yourself these questions instead.
Who did I reach and who grew? Who learned to read? Who came to school every day because it was better than home? What did I do to explain a concept that had been previously baffling?
Which kids had a better day because I was their teacher? Why did they feel safe enough to test me? What do my students know now that they didn't before? Who might remember me and come back for a visit someday?
I'm certain of one thing. Those are the questions that I will focus on when my career ends; not the test scores. And the answers to those questions are the reasons I teach.
Enjoy your well-deserved time off, friends, and colleagues.
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