Friday was my last day with my kiddos in Grade Six. It was, to say the least, a very hectic and somewhat bitter-sweet day. After writing their last Provincial exam in Science, my kids were just ready to PAR-TAY! So we did…but first…
They cleaned out lockers and desks and I collected textbooks and locks and did those seemingly countless but oh-so-important myriad of tasks that need doing on the last day of school. My kids took down all their art work from the bulletin boards, then we had a mini-farewell for those few students not returning next year. My educational assistant, Jaqi, had baked a cake (see picture) and so my kids were already well sugared up before they headed out to have their well-planned-out farewell party with the other two Grade Six classes in the gym.
There was more food, a photo booth, games inside and outside and since I was designated to record the afternoon for posterity by taking photos, I did that with gusto. (Luckily, I just had to take the pictures not sort through them all after!)
Then precisely at 1:15, there were the “good-bye” hugs, some gift exchanges, and then they were gone. The hallways were empty, the sound of laughter and excited voices silenced and I returned to my empty classroom.
Walking into that empty classroom I experienced that “peace that surpasses understanding”. Only teachers understand what it’s like to end a year, sanity mostly intact, recognizing that they have indeed survived! Job well done…
…And for many teachers of course, they are already preparing for next year! The peace fades…
As I sit in my empty classroom I recall some days that I wish I could do over. Lessons taught that never hit the mark. My patience tested and my voice worn out from trying to get attention from a classroom full of students who were not in the mood to attend. I will admit, I would come home so weary and exhausted I would collapse into my chair and barely have enough strength to get up to eat dinner. Then there were those days where a student would have a “light-bulb” moment of understanding a concept in class and the delight would almost overwhelm me! Marking a term paper, or reading a story a student wrote that showed so much thought and effort and progress…made my whole day! Then in the middle of those up-down days a “God Moment” would occur and I would be awed by how God could orchestrate a seemingly simple conversation or a lesson so that a child would not just learn a classroom lesson but learn a spiritual principle for life!
Thirty-five years ago I entered a classroom for the very first time to teach a group of Grade Five students. I remember so very well their little faces looking up at me, waiting for me to teach the first lesson. I was the brand-new teacher who wanted to change the world. It did not take me long to realize I won’t change the world, but my students will!
So I give thanks that I have had the awesome opportunity to teach future doctors, lawyers, politicians, moms, dads and world-changers for over thirty-five years. There is no better job in the world!
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” Proverbs 4:13