I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. In a few days, I will be finished with this school year.
The end of the year is always a bittersweet time. I’m glad to have a break coming up. But I’m definitely going to miss some of the students. Although their math skills left much to be desired at times, this year’s students really were sweethearts for the most part. Of course, many of them I will still see walking the halls next year (but then, last year’s students who are finishing middle school entirely I won’t see around anymore), and there are always a few every year that I stay in touch with.
The end of a school year is also a good time to reflect. I can look back and think about how this year went, and what I can do differently next year. I had some ideas for things I could do differently this year, and once the school year started, and I became overwhelmed by many other changes made across the whole school, my ideas didn’t get implemented well. It didn’t work the way I had expected it to. So I’ll try again next year, and it will be better now that I know how this year turned out.
This is also a good time to reflect on my personal life. I have some time off coming up, obviously, and that is the perfect opportunity to do things out of my comfort zone. Sometime in the next few days, I’m going to write a list of goals for my summer break. It sounds kind of clichéd, but I’ve done this a couple times in the past, and it really did help me do something out of character that I wouldn’t ordinarily do on at least one occasion. I don’t know yet what will be on my list, and I don’t know yet if I’m ready to share my entire list, whatever it ends up being.
I often feel pressure at the beginning of summer vacation, like I have to make this the best summer EVER!!!. And I often feel pressure at the end, because of everything I wanted to happen over the summer that didn’t happen. I’m trying not to worry about all that and just enjoy life.
I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone from the one dance place I’m still attending regularly; I’ll call her 2M1207. We had never talked about my work until yesterday, and she was interested to hear some of my thoughts about being a teacher. I said something I’ve said often before: 7th grade is both the best and the worst age to teach. You have the nice kids from stable homes, who are just starting to emerge into maturity but are still childlike enough to give me the fun of working with children. And then you have the angry tough kids from broken homes, who are at the height of defiance and have not yet been humbled by harsh reality. In my current position, I have a lot more of the first type than the second, at least compared to the other school where I once taught 7th grade.
Regarding that second group of students, the ones I referred to 2M1207 said, “It’s hard being angry and feeling like there’s nothing you can do about it.”
That statement really hit me. Because it sounds a lot like me. But not about school. I know the feeling of being angry and feeling helpless. That’s how I feel about a lot of things in the world right now. The world is really messed up, and it doesn’t make sense to me, and it often feels like I am out of options.
Of course, there are options. I just don’t always see them right away, because they require thinking outside the box, trying something different than what I have always done before. And the same can be applied to the angry students I come across. There is help for them, but they have to think outside the box… and I may need to also in order to understand completely where they are coming from.
I don’t know if my conversation with 2M1207 will help me out of my anger at the world, but hopefully this perspective will help me in my next interaction with an angry student.
I am at a wedding right now as I am writing this. It’s that boring part where everyone is waiting for the family and wedding party to take pictures. I probably won’t finish this whole post now; that seems too antisocial, so I’ll probably finish it at home.
But that’s not the point. I’ve been to somewhere upward of 40 weddings in my life, and this is the second time I’ve been to a wedding of a former student, and the first time I have ever been to a wedding of two former students marrying each other.
As I have gotten older, and stayed in touch with some former students, I often feel like I’m stuck in a weird time warp. My former students grow up, graduate, get adult jobs, get married, and have families of their own… and I don’t really change at all. Last week, I was Facebooking with another former student from a different school. I asked her how her daughter was doing; she said she was crawling already and made a remark about how they grow up so fast. I replied, “I know! I don’t know firsthand, since I don’t have children myself, but I’m sitting here talking to you, I’ve known you since you were 12, and now I’m asking you about your kid. In fact, you are the same age now as I was when I was your teacher.”
I often feel sad about the fact that I don’t have a family or children of my own. It feels like I’m missing out on a beautiful and wonderful stage of growing up. But maybe this is my legacy. Maybe I just wasn’t meant to have a family of my own. Maybe staying in touch with some of my former students and watching them grow up is going to take the place of having a family of my own. It will never be the same, but this is a beautiful experience in its own right. And I don’t have to change diapers. I can still be an important figure in others’ lives without being biologically related to them.
And it’s entirely possible I may still have children someday. Life isn’t over, and I’ve been wrong about things before. For example, I was wrong that I wouldn’t finish this blog post before the wedding pafty finishes taking pictures. Hurry up, already. I’m hungry.