It is a time for me to reflect, professionally and personally, and take some notes. There were the lessons and novels that looked great on paper but were awful in real life (no more Things Fall Apart!). Lots of great class discussions and some that fell on deaf ears and blank faces (1984 anyone??). The live theater performances we attended were great for those who ventured beyond our small town boundaries. And connections with particular classes or individual students are always special, though today I realized just what that means.
As the senior pictures and thank you cards cross my desk, I get a bit immune to the tears and sentimentality. I guess having done this for 12 years, it all begins to look and feel the same. Just another group of seniors restating the same "I love your class" and "I will miss you" messages that I've heard for over a decade. Now I don't want to sound callous or ungrateful. My students are a pretty good bunch of kids and I wish them each the best of luck as they head off into the next phase of their lives (I know, cliche graduation phrase!). But countless seniors say those things to countless teachers across the state and nation this time of year so it gets a bit generic. Makes me wonder if, as they say, teachers really do touch lives.
Apparently I did:
- One young lady remembered how I offered my slippers to wear during class because her feet were aching in her high heels.
- A shy, reserved, nervous young man joined the cast of my drama production and remembered it as one of the best things he's been encouraged to do. He was also an extra in a recent movie, by the way...
- Another member of my drama cast reiterated the fabulous friends she made and appreciated the chance to learn some new skills and just cut loose.
- My self-motivated independent student helped supervise my freshmen and we shared countless conversations about college courses, moving away from home, and growing up.
- Former student/babysitter stopped in to visit just because he missed chatting and catching up (two young children provide lots to share!).
- One young man realized I had his bests interests in mind as I strongly encouraged him to go to college up north, but he ultimately chose a local community college with the promise to get out of town in a couple of years.
- And several kids mentioned the fact that they appreciated that I "set aside what I am doing" to talk or offer advice.