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Final Bell

The chaos that is the end of the school year has begun and teachers are focused on administering last minute assessments, penning the perfect report card comments, surviving field day mishaps, and organizing final send offs. Typically these end of the year festivities are accompanied by behaviors that are far from typical and enough to cause the most relaxed teachers to question if they will be able to make it until the final bell, let alone the June of their thirtieth year.

As the last few days of the school year slip away, we must remember that so does the predictability upon which many of our students depend. From September until June, students spend a majority of their waking hours in our care. We provide them shelter, food, learning experiences, and structure. During the last few weeks of school, this predictability starts to wane as our normal schedules fall away. Discussions of summer vacations fill our classrooms. We often ask children about their summer plans, but we don’t always hear the hidden meaning behind those that do not respond. Those that remain silent are usually the ones that seem to have developed a severe case of ADHD overnight or have been sent out of the room on a not so cloaked errand to the office. We often fill that silence by sharing with our students our plans. We paint pictures of time spent up north with family and friends and hours spent reading the books that have been piling up throughout the year.

What we fail to realize is what we don’t tell our kids about a teacher’s summer vacation. We forget to tell them that we will miss them. Sure, we say good bye and hug them as they load the bus on the final day. We sign notes in their yearbooks wishing them the best and asking them to visit in the fall. But we forget to tell them that just as much as we make their days predictable, they make our days predictable too. We don’t tell them that on our travels we see things that remind us of them or that we attempt to retell stories from class that are only funny to us. We don’t share with them that we will forget to turn off our phone reminders about medication times or parent pick ups and will spontaneously smile when their name pops up on our screen. We don’t really let them know that we will miss them and that the impending separation has us flustered too.

So my advice on these final days when the hours feel like days and the days feel like weeks, stop filing, printing, cleaning, and stowing. Find that kid that just launched the pencil across the room, give him a big hug and let him know that your days will not be the same without him!

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