Last night was Open House at school, which is always interesting. To steal from my friend Leslie, I am allergic to small talk. And while yes, I am an adult, talking to other adults, especially adults whose children I teach, makes me incredibly nervous. I am a young teacher, and sometimes, I still feel like someone is going to come into my classroom and tell me to stop playing school, because there is no way I am old enough or responsible enough to be in charge of all of these kids, and their education.
But I digress. Last night went off without a hitch and actually had some sweet moments, including a mom who didn’t speak English very well telling me her daughter “has a crush on me” and then corrected herself and said her daughter “thinks I’m pretty” and then writing down all of the products I used in my hair. They were incredibly disappointed to find out it was a hybrid blend of Suave, Herbal Essences and Sunsilk. FANCY! And all under $3.
As I was talking to a parent whose son makes me laugh every single day, I found myself choking back tears as we discussed them moving on to high school. I have had some of these students for two years, and even the ones I’ve had for only one, I’ve grown incredibly attached to. I absolutely love these kids. They are incredibly smart—often surpassing my greatest hopes and expectations for what they’d achieve. My students are sweet and kind, and while they sometimes wear the shell of 14-year-old attitude, underneath, there is a sweet side that I get to witness in their interactions with me and with their peers. I teach in a rough area and some of my kids have been in serious trouble. What I like best is that in the classroom, this all melts away, and I get to see their brains and their hearts in action. Most of all, they make me laugh. Every. Single. Day. And not a chuckle—a full on hysterical laugh. If you don’t laugh in a room full of 13 and 14 year olds, you might want to plug in for a bit and try and send some electricity to your robotic heart.
The good and the bad about teaching is that there is always a second chance. Every year, I end up feeling like I haven’t had enough time. I regret the days I’ve been in a bad mood or missed those little moments to really revel in the joy that is these kids. I know that next year, I will get a whole new group of special kids, but at the end of each year, I find myself wishing I could hold on to these ones a little bit longer.
When you get your credential, they tell you how to manage your classroom, and how to write a lesson, but they never, ever tell you how to say goodbye and get use to this endless ebb and flow of kids you can’t help but love.