Thursday, August 1, 2019

It's Almost Time

On Tuesday I traveled to a local university with my oldest son. We attempted to figure out what he should be thinking about for his last two years of high school to prepare for this journey into college. It was amazing, as well as a bit overwhelming. Upon returning to town I considered that the date was July 30th, yet I hadn't been in my classroom since the last day of school. That is not typical for me. Usually, as soon as we get the email or text that states the floors are done, I head in. Most of the time, that’s closer to the 4th of July, not the end. While I completely understand teachers wanting to wait until as late as possible in summer, for me heading in to set up my room is something that is better done as early. It doesn't take me long to get the overall set up done, maybe an hour or so, but then I can put school out of my mind until closer to the start.

Tuesday afternoon I headed in and looked around my room. Overall, most of the furniture was already in the spot I needed it to be. I usually leave a map for my janitors showing where things would go and they are amazing, getting it set up how I need them to. I saw that I had left three small shelves off of the map and needed those moved still, so I sent a text to one janitor for help moving them so I wouldn’t scratch the floor. 

When the guys arrived they quickly moved the shelves as I caught up on their summers and what was going on around the building. It is amazing to me how easy it is to slip back into this work life after weeks at home. It felt like at any minute the bell might ring, kids would trek down the hall, and I’d need to teach. In reality, however, I still have thirteen days.

The guys left and I began to get out small items I’d put in the cabinet for storage over the summer. I walked around the room, wiping down shelves with Clorox wipes. To me, a classroom in the summer is an odd place. It almost feels alive with ghosts. Not ghosts from the beyond, of course, but the ghosts of memories. This will be my fourth year at middle school and this classroom, the start of the twenty-fourth year of teaching. I can look around the room and think of stories of former students over the years. I remember when one group of girls started a book club over the Maximum Ride series, working to get the whole class to read it. I see the fake Christmas tree we have on top of a bookshelf and I remember the class that decided we had to call it Thalia after The Lightning Thief and how they brought a blanket to drape on it for the Golden Fleece. Standing in the back of the room, I remember one rough conversation with a student at the start of last year and the dread in my heart as I worried I would be unable to reach him. Looking back and thinking of his last reflection on our year together, my fear was unfounded. On our end of the year reflection, I ended with this question…

What good memory will you take with you from seventh grade? 
His response - my time with you.

As I cleaned and organized, I found little notes left from last year’s class. My eyes welled up more than one memory as I moved quietly about the room. I love teaching with my whole heart. Every year I’m sad to see my classes go, but I also look forward to summer. I need time with my family. I need to relax. I need to let my brain be quiet. I was fascinated to see that the eye twitch I’d had on and off during the school year went away as soon as summer began. 

Summer is necessary for me. It is essential. 

And yet, I am ready for a new school year. Well, almost. I will be in thirteen days. I’m ready to greet new classes of students. I’m ready to worry about them, laugh with them, love them, and build new memories to fill our classroom. I’m ready to share my love of reading and writing with a new class of kids, watch them roll their eyes at me, and then quietly grin as I see so many of them start to love the subject too.

It’s almost time.