A teacher I knew said to me once, when trying to encapsulate the end of the school year: “Students that presented the most challenges throughout the year were often the ones that made me cry when they left."
Doesn't that say it all about teacher challenges faced every school year?
The last day of school is definitely a day of competing emotions. Everyone is ready for the summer break. Feelings of celebration and joy overflow, but it is also a day of bittersweet goodbyes.
Another year is in the books, a year filled with all the emotional energy good teaching demands. The following quotes, shared by real teachers, portray the joy, pain, and laughter of the last day of school.
As you move, and perhaps struggle, to make it to the end of another year of teaching experience, think about these last day of school stories from real teachers:
- “On the last day, everyone is happy. After the whirlwind of the testing crunch, progress reports, assemblies, packing up shelves and boxes, like the students, I’m glad it’s done.”
- “My students have a safety net at school, a structured routine, a meal. Leaving for the summer means going to some place they may not have a meal. They may be frightened, apprehensive.”
- “I find that teaching comes full circle. It's incredibly difficult as a new teacher, and then incredibly difficult again as an 'aging' teacher. I feel older, slower, and less patient...But already, I find myself missing my little ones. Every year, I'm not sure it's possible to lose more of my heart to my kids, yet every year it seems hearts regenerate and there's more to give again...I'm tired. I feel old. I'm cranky. And I miss them already.”
- “After the last day, at first, I have trouble settling into not working – used to the fast pace. There was so much to do, and now I think, What do I do?”
- “You think back on all the good days and the bad days – days you stayed awake all night because of something you said to a student. . .”
- “After the last day, I experience a slight state of “funk” that lasts about one week – recognizing the passage of time, nostalgia/sadness. . . Partly, I’ve been in ‘Go Mode’ so long, it’s hard to step off the stage. Then I realize it’s time to enjoy summer – get the party started!”
- “Fifth graders move on to another school, so some are sad because they can’t see their teachers or school again. They are transitioning to another stage of life.”
- “Some of my fifth grade students arrived at the beginning of the year from another country. As they graduate to middle school, it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come in one year learning English.”
- “My summer shifts to pursuing personal projects. I’m just as busy but in a more self-actualizing way.”
- “I have a last day of school ritual that doesn’t involve being at school. After the last day, I go to my favorite cafe by myself, eat a BLT, and reflect upon the past year. I am removed from school, so I’m not interrupted by the things at school.”
- “Students recognize that all I demanded of them was for a purpose, and they recognize how it’s bettered them. They thank me for it which is validation of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.”
- “One student showed little emotion all year, no reactions. On the last day he blurted out, ‘You made everything fun.’ I had no idea that kid thought that.”
- “I was excited the last day and worried I wouldn’t make it.”