Today was my last official day of classes. To say it was a "class day" is a bit of a euphemism. We didn't have class. We celebrated. I often do this at the end of the year and this year, even if I weren't leaving, these kids deserved a celebration. They worked hard.
When I look back on the year, I realize how high my expectations have been for my kids. I expect a lot from myself and I do the same for my students. Sometimes I am disappointed. But if I look at this year and think about my boys, I am definitely not disappointed. I was talking today to my juniors, who I pushed particularly hard, and told them how thankful I am for all of the work they've done. I told them I know that I asked a lot of them and said that they had met my expectations. A student asked if they exceeded my expectations and I said that in some ways they had. As I thought more about it, I wish I had just answered yes. They succeeded in so many ways. They opened their minds and hearts to others whom, though they may not have even realized it before, they had looked down on. They wrote pieces of their own stories and trusted each other enough to share them. They considered the ideas of non-violence and forgiveness and some might even try to practice them in their lives... Those are a few of their larger successes.
There were many smaller day-to-day successes, too. Today is a perfect example. Students signed up to bring food for their class parties, and they followed through (which hasn't always been the case). While this may sound like nothing to someone who's not a teacher, they were quiet and reverent today during prayer, even when the front of the room was filled with food for them to eat, the sun was shining outside, and the end of school was fast approaching. They filled their plates in an orderly manner and when it was time, cleaned up after themselves. End-of-the-year parties have never gone so smoothly. I think they had fun and I am grateful that they allowed me to relax during what could have been a chaotic and stressful day.
Today for the most part I held myself together; I didn't shed too many tears. I'm holding on to the fact that I still have a few days that I'll see my kids in the classroom, if only for their exams. My juniors have a book project to finish up, which may extend past next week when we finish exams. I also have a few service days over the summer...so I'm putting off my real "last day." I know I need to let go so that I have open arms to embrace what's next. I'm still working on it...