We got our STAAR results back! Of the 85 students I teach, 6 failed (though they are the hardest-working and more incredible students know), meaning 93% of my kiddos passed. I cried of happiness and relief and freedom when I opened the email in the teacher’s lounge one sunny afternoon last week. And then minutes later, I had my last evaluative observation, and then I walked out of my classroom to see an adorable prom proposal/invitation in the quad, and summer began for me.
God granted me a fall of fear and unrest, a winter of self-doubt, a spring of finding myself again. This summer I won’t be teaching. I’m actually working in the corporate sector – I want to use a different part of my brain and just see the world – and though we still have a month left of school, in many ways summer has already started. We have eight instructional days left this year. Testing and spring trip and more testing and various events have eaten into our calendar and so I push to finish just one more scene of Romeo & Juliet, one more vocab list, one more paragraph of our literary analysis writing project. I’m tutoring my six kids for the STAAR retake but we’re all feeling restless. Summer’s in the air.
I can feel it, in the way things are winding down, in the way – in true “me” style – I am mourning the loss of something before it’s already over. Two of my closest friends from school are not coming back next year, and another is likely moving to a different grade level team. I’m sad because we have grown so close this year. We hang out on the weekends, we cover one another’s classes when there is a death in the family, we give each other random flowers and cards and happy post-it notes just because. In college I wondered if I would ever again make the kind of friends I did back then, and here I am, and here I did.
Every Friday on the way home I find myself tearing up because it is one week closer to a time when I don’t see my students for two hours every single day. I love them – I have surprised myself by how much I’ve grown to love them this year – and I often marvel at how life works this way. How our lives can be so inextricably intertwined for 180 days (sometimes I see them more than they see their parents or non-school-friends) and then – on an arbitrary day my district decided to designate as the “last day of school” -we are flung apart. They will come back to school next year. Older, wiser, full of the swag that comes with being a high schooler but the inner terror at being a high schooler. Their lives will continue on, these little souls will grow and change and proceed fearlessly wherever their lives may take them, and I will fade into the background as the one English teacher they had in 8th grade. I’m okay with that. That’s how things are supposed to be. Time changes things, and such is the natural order of the world, but it’s still hard to grasp right now.
My last evaluative walkthrough was my strongest evaluation this year. It’s funny how that worked out…by that point, I had stopped being so paranoid, I chose to go out with a few friends the night before, I resigned myself to just doing my best and hoping it would all work out. And I got my highest scores. Maybe that’s something to think about for next year. How constantly psyching myself out and mentally overanalyzing actually holds me back. My admin strongly pressured me to move up to 9th grade and teach English I next year – “We need a strong planner, who can incorporate rigor and discussion and out-of-the-box thinking” - and I smiled and gently said no because I just want to get good at what I’m doing right now. I think I might be in this for the long haul…and I am nowhere near the kind of teacher I want to be right now.
As summer approaches, it brings all the promise of a fresh start, some time to self-reflect, a chance to take stock of the beautiful adventure this year has been. God has sent me angels in the form of my MTLD, my coach, my grade level chair, my friends and roommates and college friends who have stuck with me endlessly. He’s given me obstacles so that I might stay humble, He’s given me successes so that I might envision a future here in this work, in this life. I have been blessed in millions of ways and as the year winds down I am continually blown away by how lucky I’ve been. “I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I know where I rightfully live.”
And with that, I’m off to cook, and spend time outside, and read about things that have nothing to do with education. Weekends are good. Life is good.