Sinking In.

I’m letting it sink in that tomorrow will be my final day of school in my fifth year teaching. It’s my last ending to a school year where I will be a teacher, at least for a little while.

One of my students from last year gave me a letter that moved me to tears within the first paragraph. She told me I was her school mom, that I was there for her when she needed someone, that she was grateful for all my advice this year about academics and boys, that she was sad I was leaving but happy I was going to be able to advance my career. Reading her words and letters from other students in the last week shook my heart and watered my eyes.

I flash between wondering if this graduate school path is the right one when I receive these messages from students. Students who tell me they used to dislike science but now love it; who say I helped them through their tough decisions this year; who remember our projects and remind me about why I love this job so much.

As I step back and look into the deepest part of my being, I know I’m making the right decision right now. I recognize the calling to pursue this degree, to learn more about the interworkings of education policy, to incur change at a larger scale than just my classroom for the betterment of thousands of students at a time. Despite this, it doesn’t make closing this chapter any easier.

Tomorrow, I will drink in all the moments: the chaos of a mildly disorganized yet productive classroom, the calm of the hallways right before students are released for dismissal. I will make the most of every opportunity with students, as their teacher, facilitator, advocate, pseudo-mom, and everything in between.

I’m preparing myself as the feels continue to sink deeply into my heart, my brain, my entire being. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have ever prepared for this day in full, but here goes nothing everything.

The Month of May in Review.

I told myself I was going to take time and write more, and here I am updating this for the first time in about a month.

Oops?

Despite the fact that my updating has been lackluster, you’ll be pleased to know that there are wonderful things you are about to read. Well, at least I think they’re pretty wonderful.

The end of May has come and gone. The mCLASS benchmarks are finished, EOGs are now complete, and we’re doing our best to tie up all our loose ends. I can’t believe how quickly this month passed. Time really does go by faster the closer you get to summer.

This is one of my favorite times of the year, though not for the reasons you may initially think. I admit that I look forward to a little break, especially at this point in the year, but my vacation isn’t what excites me. What really gets my heart rate high and my blood pumping fast through my veins is watching how much these kids grow in a year’s time.

I’ve seen so much growth from my kids this year — all 56 of them! They’ve grown academically, but what’s more is that they’ve also grown so much emotionally and socially. It’s amazing watching a child reading far below grade level get on target with where he should be reading (I haven’t heard of a child climbing nine reading levels until this year — how unreal). It’s equally amazing watching a child who experiences bullying issues overcome those issues and make peace with the child who instigated meanness within the classroom. Some students made turn arounds with the assistance of correct medicinal dosages, others made turn arounds on their own accord. Students came to me with minimal passions for reading, and now they’re leaving with hearts full of stories.

Third grade is truly magical. I’m sure I’ve said that before at some point in the course of this blog’s five year history, but really, it’s sheer magical bliss. You get these kids coming to you who are at the prime age of impression — they’re sponges. They still love their teacher and aren’t afraid to hug, yet they’re searching and yearning for independence in and out of the classroom. It’s a beautiful thing to watch students take ownership of their own learning, and I am humbled every day realizing that I get to be an active participant in these kids’ lives.

Wait, It’s Over?

Seriously, that’s what I’m thinking — how is this year already over? It’s way past my bedtime but I can’t stop replaying every day of this past year. Tomorrow (well, today) is my last day with my third graders, and I truly can’t believe that my first year of teaching is coming to a close.

It’s been quite the year. It was a big adjustment not having any help (like, a really big adjustment), and some of the students in my class were incredibly difficult. I saw behaviors that I didn’t expect to encounter and there were plenty of times when I doubted myself. Despite the tears and the copious amounts of coffee, I can easily say that I’ve learned from every moment this year.

To be quite honest, I feel like now that I’ve finished this year, I can do anything. I feel empowered knowing that I wasn’t at the easiest school and yet I still did a darn good job. I did the best I could with what I had, and I think I can safely say that all went well and my students achieved some form of success.

Just thinking about tomorrow makes me feel a million emotions. I’m happy that the year is over (especially that report cards are done!), I’m excited for the summer, I’m sad to see my first class go — needless to say, I’m sure tears will be involved and unfortunately my mascara isn’t waterproof.

Who knew these kids would have such a profound impact on me? I hoped that I’d make a difference to them, but watching them mature and seeing what some of them go through has been so humbling. Throughout the year I’ve seen every student in my class grow, and while I watched them I noticed myself grow, too. I’m definitely not the same teacher I was in August, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m so glad I got to be their teacher this year — I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many hearts or received so many hugs in my life!

It feels good to have this year done. Like I said, it’s so nice knowing that I can do this — this year has been challenging, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge and will continue to accept even more with each new opportunity that comes my way. It’s so reaffirming to get to this point in the year when everything comes to a close and you feel like you’re doing what you’ve been called to do with your life.