Today I closed my classroom door and hung my ID badge on a hook at home.
I left my room looking so . . . empty.
Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love my summers! They are needed to rest, spark creativity, build new dreams for the next year and most importantly—to pour into my own family.
But something feels so hollow in these last days of cleaning, filing, and closing doors.
For 180 days, 19 children have walked into my doorway. I have heard them laugh the deep down heal your heart belly laughs. I have held them through tears and covered boos boos with bandaids. I have known they were sick without a thermometer. I have watched them grow in all things academic.
But above all, I have watched them grow in confidence.
They have seen me laugh so hard when I couldn’t hold back. They have seen me cry when I couldn’t mask the hurt. They knew my last nerve and right where to find it. They knew coffee is necessary . . . so much they’d remind me to bring it with me for morning assemblies. They knew what would warm my heart on a frazzled day.
Because . . .
We became a family.
Yesterday, as I sat in a pile of papers . . . these children . . . my kids . . . they were now scattered forms and scores and pictures and files. My watch still buzzed right on schedule to remind me of medicine for one, speech therapy for another and intervention groups for others. I slid those alarms to off . . . because their schedules are no longer mine to keep. I filed those papers, distributed their names to new second grade class sets and sat back feeling as empty as my classroom.
This is one of the more gut-wrenching parts of the job. While we all do the happy dance when that last bus rolls out, those busloads of children take little pieces of our hearts with them. We worry about them over the summer. We wonder what teacher will fit them best next year. We think of what we could’ve done differently . . . or done more. We think of the silly moments and the maddening ones.
Then we pack it all up, close the door and think how lucky we are to have known them . . . to forever call them “my kids” and to have the opportunity to begin again with new little faces who will, once again, become family.
Happy summer my teacher friends! You’ve worked your heart out and it’s time . . . time to close the door and breathe.
This post originally appeared on With My Whole Heart
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