"What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean, I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."
-Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye)
I have less than two weeks left at the school I've called home the past five years of my life - the school where I started my career, and learned what it means to be a teacher. And while I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with the books, the boxes, and the files upon files of papers I need to organize and pack away for who knows how long, I'm longing to feel something other than the strange void I feel today.
In one way, the roller coaster I've been on the past three months has come to a momentary stop - I finally have many answers to the questions and feelings I've been wrestling with, and am in a way, excited for a new position, a fresh start, and a new opportunity to leave my imprint on education. But at the same time, I hold my breath, just waiting to be pushed back into the ring, punched with the same feelings that have been such a part of my life this semester - fear, anger, frustration, vulnerability, emptiness, and worry...I want to take hold of this life and feel the assurance that all will be okay, but quite honestly, my ability to trust is a bit scarred and meek.
Many things are going on as any other school year. I'm still facing my usual end-of-the-year grading and swarm of students who finally decide it's time to improve their grade with two weeks left in the school year. I get up later, throw my hair in a ponytail more, and trade piles of work for a beer on the back deck at the end of every school day. I feel relaxed, content, and ready for summer.
Yes, life seems to look a lot like every other year, which is kind of what scares me the most. The end of the year is crazy - trying to finalize grades, stick in last minute content, and motivate students to finish strong, all while honoring and supporting students at their graduation parties, senior recitals, and spring sporting events---there's something on the calendar every single night. And if you're not careful, the end of the year has this way of creeping up on you and before you know it, you're left in your office, a pile of last minute papers on your desk, in a school building empty until August. It's a whirlwind end, further justifying just why teachers need that summer-breather.
This year, I'm especially worried about this whirlwind. I fear being stuck in this same tornado, only this time being left in the dust without an August or a new school year to come back to. I fear missing opportunities to say good-bye to my students, the students I've gotten to know so well, and I worry about missing their learning, their growth, and their moments of amazing next year. I got into this profession because I desire to make a difference, to see growth, to witness change, and now I fear I'm going to miss the seeds I've helped plant.
It's weird when you're cognizant of the end of an important phase in your life. So often, you look back on your life and see evidence of major changes, yet, you didn't know they were happening at the time. And other times, like this one, you have a front row seat to your life. I am in the midst of an ever-important change, the end of one phase and the beginning of another, and I want the journey between the two to be graceful. I want to be ever-present to the moments I will always remember and most of all, I want there to be moments I will always remember.
Because if there aren't, 'you end up feeling even worse.'