Sunday, June 5, 2011

Last Day of School

On my last day of teaching this school year (remarkably it has been almost two weeks since then!) I received a number of kind, sincere letters from my students.  As I read them, I cried.  And then I wrote:

I'm supposed to be grading papers.  I am supposed to be finalizing grades.  I am supposed to be cleaning my classroom and packing things away for the summer.  Instead, I had to sit down and write.  I had to sit down and share with somebody, anybody, everybody, how incredibly powerful the teaching experience is. 

My classroom is quiet, for what feels like the first time this year, and I have been sitting and reading thank you letters from students.  And when the tears started falling, I knew I had to capture this feeling.

The work I do is the good work. It is work that sometimes feels like not working at all because it is so natural.  It is simply one person guiding another person for a short time as they journey through life.  It is beckoning the child over, holding the hand, sharing anecdotes and wisdom and warnings and praise.And then it is listening.  To what they say, to what they don't. To the music they don't always know their words produce.

And other days it is the work of mules and oxen. It is the harvest.  It is pushing from behind, pulling from the front, leading by example and digging in my heels.  I try on those days not to let the strain show.  I try to still hold the hands, listen and encourage.  Not only for them, but for me.

I would be lying if I said I do it all for them.  I want such wonderful lives for them; I want them to be reflective and kind, thoughtful and giving, bright and resourceful.  But, I also do it for me.  I do it because it brings me unspeakable joy.

 So, today, as I read the most poignant words from the special students I have been blessed to call mine, I feel undeserving.  How could they be so sweet and so appreciative and so affected by someone who is just doing what brings her joy?

I will definitely enjoy my summer, a little more sleep and lots more time with my boys and my husband.  But I also love summer because it gives me more time for thinking and reflecting and filling my head and heart back up so I have even more to give when school begins again in August.   Can't wait!


Kathy Diver said...

I completely get this feeling....

Melanie Nadon said...

Mrs. Elliott,

I have always wanted to teach - from a young age. Like most children and teens, my interests changed. But it wasn't like most children's quick preference changes - I went from "I want to teach music" to "I want to teach French" to "I want to teach philosophy" when most kids went from wanting to be architects to wanting to be politicians, or something of that sort.

Some days, I question my desire to teach. But, it is an overpowering desire. Even in class or around friends who just wanted me to give them answers, I never would. I wanted to guide them, teach them. I would like to watch people learn and grow and know that I had a hand in it.

I really enjoyed this blog post, because it is revitalizing my career goals. It has been hard for me to put into words why I want to teach high school and most people my age think I'm crazy. But this explains it all, and the funny thing is, I haven't even experienced it yet.

- Melanie

Erin said...

Great post! You have a way with words, my friend! And you summed up my feelings exactly. I'm applying for a part time kinder job next year after taking a five year long hiatus, and filling out the application excited me!