I haven’t been writing lately. Something about the end of the year does this to me. I lose my steam, I begin to feel burnt out, until finally, the last couple weeks, I get my proverbial second wind and plow through the end of the year.
The end of the school year is an absolutely lovely time. I doubt my words will be able to fully encompass the joy the closing of a school year brings me, not because I will shortly be spending mornings working out and afternoons on the beach; rather, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride as memories from the year flood my mind and my heart, leaving me reflective and bittersweet.
I remember back to the first day of school this year, another oddly romantic time of year, with lots to look forward to. My current class entered my room, green and scared stiff. They could hardly accomplish anything on their own or as a team, nonetheless multiply multi-digit numbers, write an expository essay, conduct research, or read a complex poem to uncover multiple layers of meaning.
I think it hit me the other day–it hit me that the year was ending. I look forward to another year with them, but I still can’t help but feel a little sad that the first is coming to a close. I was sitting by the piano, next to the music teacher prior to their performance in the fourth grade musical. I decided they looked too adorable for words, in their green and blue school spirit colors, that I needed to take a picture.
I took one on my own, and then I asked one of my fellow teachers to take a picture with me in it. I traveled to the back of the group, telling the kids to take just one more with me in it this time. Immediately, an arm swung around my neck, smiles from cheek to cheek adorned their faces, peace signs and silly poses seemed to explode from the group. A small part of me was hoping for a somewhat normal picture, but these kids are anything but normal.
And that’s why I love them. I looked at the picture: One student sprawled out flamboyantly in the front of the picture, several boys, arms around each other, posing like frat brothers, my quiet and reserved girls, intermixed, showing the result of nurtured friendships from this year, some students not even looking at the camera, too distracted to even look at the camera.
I will cherish that picture. Never before has the eclectic mix of personalities in my classroom been so evident. Academics aside, to know that I had a role in creating this team, so diverse and cohesive, brings me a greater sense of accomplishment than any set of test scores could.
They are anything but normal, but they are so perfect, and this year has been so wonderful.