I was sitting at my desk today during recess, surrounded by kids who were all vying for my attention. I should have been annoyed and exhausted, but instead I was actually starting to get sad. I miss them, and they're not even gone yet! It's the strangest thing. And it happens every year. The kids who bug the crap outta me all year long become endearing in the last few weeks of school. The incessant, ridiculous questions (like, "How do you spell 'the'?") are suddenly precious. Their daily journal entries are gems to be cherished and shared with Miss W, who will inherit my babies next September, when they won't be babies anymore. Nor will they be "mine."
It's bittersweet. And I'm not the kind of person who uses the word "bittersweet" (unless of course, it refers to chocolate).
And all of a sudden, I feel like time is running out on me. Every day I think of something else that I wanted to do with them or teach them, and I try to find a way to cram it in before it's too late. I see the kids that I reached, and I celebrate their achievements and milestones. I look at the ones that didn't make much progress and wonder what else I could have done for them. I don't blame myself, but at the same time, it's hard not to feel at least partly responsible.
Last night I was re-reading Among Schoolchildren, a book I've had since my first undergrad education classes. In a chapter called "June," the author writes:
Near the end of a year, a teacher can't help facing the fact that there's a lot she hoped to do and hasn't done, and now probably never will. It is like growing old, but for teachers old age arrives every year.
I couldn't have said it better myself.