Teaching is a difficult job full of tough days and challenging students, so I try to focus on the good stuff: the lesson I planned that went perfectly, the student who says that I am their favorite teacher, the moment I see something click in a struggling student’s brain. The bad stuff weighs down my week, but the good stuff is what I always remember when I think back to my first few years of teaching.
On Friday, I get to enjoy the best part of teaching- watching my students graduate. This will be the 3rd time I have gotten to see a group of my students dressed in their caps and gowns, walking across the stage to get their diplomas before we send them off into the world. It is the ultimate celebration of their accomplishments, full of high fives, handshakes, hugs, and tears, and it is my favorite part of teaching.
4 years ago, I was hired to teach freshman English, and I moved up with those students for their sophomore and junior years. This year, I stayed put while they became seniors, but they waved in the hallways or stopped by my room to say hello. Some of them were in my class for two or three years, so it will be an especially exciting (and sad) day to see them leave since they have been in the building as long as I have.
Just like me, my students mostly remember the good parts on graduation day. They don’t care that I yelled at them that one time for being on their cell phone. They don’t count how many times I nagged them about missing work. They don’t remember that they actually lost credit in my class because of attendance and had to retake it during summer school. They are just excited about their future plans, and they remember all the teachers that were part of helping them get to that moment. The worst school year in the world could not ruin their excitement and optimism.
I am not sure what the elementary or middle school equivalent of this feeling is, but I can imagine there are those moments that always stick with you, that are on the highlight reel of your teaching career. I am lucky because I get to see your hard work as I watch my students being handed their diploma. It took 13 years of teachers to get them ready to go off into the world, and their high school teachers just happen to be the ones who get to wave to them as they cross the finish line. So, as you clean up your classroom and head off to summer, I hope you remember the best parts of the year and forget the rest. We all deserve a restful, relaxing summer full of nothing but the best memories.