If it’s September, you’ll find me establishing the tone of my classroom, which is to say I’m laying down the law. My soft underbelly is inevitably exposed as I grow to know my students, and by the end of the year, I’m all kinds of weepy. Don’t misunderstand, I’m as excited as the next teacher to put a period at the end of another academic year. But saying goodbye to students is hard.
Saying goodbye to students who overcame countless hurdles instantly makes me reach for the tissues.
Witnessing these kiddos scratch and claw their way to the next grade level or—SOB!—walk at graduation gets me ugly crying every time. The circumstances some of them are forced to experience at such formidable ages would break a lesser person. But these little soldiers possess fortitude, albeit sometimes hidden behind a rough exterior or frustrating nonchalance, that drives them to success. The emphatic joy I feel for and because of their “won’t quit” attitude is overwhelming in the best possible way.
Then there are the students on whom we pin our hopes and dreams for the future.
The ones always going above and beyond, always striving for their very best. It’s like they innately understand school isn’t predicated on a letter grade or percentage; it’s the learning that means something to them. They’re not afraid to challenge themselves and take risks. Be it the football player who shrugs off laughs from his boys as he tries out for the lead in the musical or the brilliant biology student who stays after hours to “talk shop” with her teacher.
These incredible young people are destined for greatness. The fact that I was a part of their formative education is humbling.
Let’s not forget about The Ones. You know who these students are: our favorites!
It’s okay—you can admit it! Maybe it’s the kid who went out of his way to say hello each morning, or the shy girl whose personality comes alive in her writing. The Ones differ from year to year, but one thing remains the same: the swell of pride we feel as we watch them pave their way in this crazy world.
So what if I’ve had to dry my eyes a couple (10) times while writing this?! My heart is full and I’m not afraid to admit it. But if any of my incoming students ask, tell them I was cutting onions, okay? I don’t want to ruin my rep.