Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ten Days Left

My last class picked up at the end of the day. 1st time all year!
Ten days. The end of the school year is a time of struggle for me. After over twenty years in the classroom, I've come to terms with it. The beginning of the school year is filled with anticipation, possibility. The end of the year is time for reflection. I am filled with pride as I see how my students have grown. At the same time, the end of the year looms large and I worry over everything we can't possibly accomplish before we run out of time. 

Ten days. It feels like both an eternity and not enough. Seventh graders have as much energy as kindergarteners on a sugar high. Their sights are set on the days of summer that stretch ahead of them. Time at the pool, hanging out with friends, and sleeping in. I get that, I really do. I clearly remember being in junior high. I don't know that I was ever sorry that a year came to an end. While I was sad to leave my elementary teachers, by junior high my friends took priority. Everything else was just standing in the way of more time with them.

That doesn't mean I'm not sad to say goodbye to them. This year and next will be years I will treasure. Both years will be classes I've taught before. That fast tracks everything for that year together. Relationships are stronger, connections deeper. They can drive me crazy much quicker - we've already done this dance together before. But I'm more understanding, and so are they. I will miss them when they are gone. 

This middle school experience has been a new one this year. There are things I miss about elementary school. Colleagues I still text, sad that they aren't down the hall anymore. Students pass in and out of your room at a middle school, at an elementary school they are yours, all day. There are positives and negatives with that switch. By and large, though, I love middle school. 

Today I conferred with a lot of kids on a presentation they are creating to show their learning on our pollution inquiry unit. I had the chance to talk to several readers about their books and recommend some new ones. One group of kids sat with me, all of us on a device, as we searched for information on the nuclear emergency in Washington yesterday and how it applied to their presentation. Another group shared facts they were learning about water pollution and Flint, Michigan. Still another group came to see me and asked if I could explain the CRAAP test again to make sure their sources were valid. I loved watching their passion for learning and can't wait to see their final presentations in our last days together.

Today the eighth graders in our building came down to perform a poem that they had memorized. Former students waved, made comments about my Starbucks cup in hand. I talked to another eighth grader in the hall as I walked out for lunch, heading home to take Leia out. She told me about the book she was reading, her plans for summer, her excitement for high school. And finally, I went into cover an 8th grade class for a few minutes today. Seeing kids literally stand up and cheer as I walked in, give me high fives, my heart swelled. I caught up with what they were doing, got to wish them well, and head back to my classroom.

Ten days. It isn't enough, but it will have to be. The end of the year will be here before I know it. And while I miss the family feeling of my elementary school classroom, today I realized that the entire middle school is like that family. It's a larger classroom, in some respects. I'm going to be sad to see these 8th graders go on to high school, but I am confident they are destined for some great things. And my current group of 7th graders? I can't wait to watch them grow. 

Ten days.