Saturday, June 27, 2015

Famous Last Words

Graduation was three weeks ago yesterday, and the graduation parties continue.  Honestly, I think this helps teachers with long term connections with students, because commencement exercises aren't truly "goodbye," as we continue to encounter seniors at various family-hosted celebrations throughout the summer.  

It's particularly nice that there is time between each of these festivities, as it allows for some individual reflection on my part, because something deep down inside me wants to have "one more shot" at leaving a lasting impact on the kids, and to let them know that they've done the same for me.

Once again, Terry Heick at Te@chthought has penned the words to describe the very emotion attached to this annual ritual:

At the end of every school year, you lose dozens of relationships that changed you. That’s no small thing. Teaching is a personal act that binds teacher and student together even if that binding isn’t made in mutual affection. To teach and learn is to come together.

 Sure, I know that many of the kids with whom I am closest will reach out with messages on social media, or show up for the annual Thanksgiving Breakfast, or be appearing on my doorstep looking to use me as a reference for a summer job next summer, and that's all great.  I've already added quite a few nice notes and cards received from my seniors to my "happy file," that I use to create smiles when I don't feel like smiling.

It's comforting to know that other teachers are in this same cycle of goodbye.  Terry does a fine job with her list of  "30 Things to Tell Students You'll Never See Again."  Aside from the title, I applaud her efforts, because I can't imagine admitting that there are some that will be gone from my life forever.

Certainly all teachers gravitate to #28 -  I’m your teacher for life. If you ever need me, find me.

But I love #24 the best.   Because, as you well know, I am a rebel when it comes to thinking about thinking.

24. Don’t do what your teachers and parents have told you to do. They love you, but they can’t possibly understand the complexity of your life and hopes and thoughts and dreams and fears, and will try to anyway, unwittingly projecting their own insecurities and aspirations on you. And when you follow it, your life will be an underwhelming, room temperature, sticky wet noodle. It’s your life, and thus your work.

Already, some are on their next step in the journey.  The Coast Guard Academy has caused one to spend time at the beach stenciling her name on every item in her duffel bag, while another has boarded a plane to Italy for the summer.  Missions Trips are underway, and summer jobs are simulating the first step to financial independence as kids ask "Who the heck is FICA?", after examining their first paychecks.

Yes, all 30 points are wonderful, and terrible at the very same time.  Because nobody likes to say goodbye.  So, instead, I say to my former students:

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving - 9 am - Breakfast.  Put it on your calendar now!

After all, I made the reservation after the Senior Breakfast celebration, looking forward to the next time we all say hello.