Slice of Life Tuesday: I should be packing up, but….

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I should be hauling out all the boxes my husband has been collecting for me (which are now sitting, all 25 of them) in my van, and beginning to go about the business of packing up my classroom.  Packing up every single book,  artifact, cushion and rug I have covering every inch of this classroom – that is the task I should be attending to.

Instead, here I sit, with about 10 minutes to spare before my kids come in, and all I can do is look across the happy looking expanse of my classroom, still festooned with work we’ve done and work we will be finishing up, and reflect….

The year always seems to have flown by in these last days.  We begin in September with the year spread before us – with  long months of carrying out carefully crafted  teaching plans, getting to know our students,and  weighing teaching decisions all before us.  There is anticipation, excitement, some anxiety, lots of energy.  The classroom looks shiny new, with summer finds (books! more comfy chairs!) here and there to remind us of new beginnings.  Even the light coming through my windows seems to have a fresh slant.  New beginnings – for my kids, and for me.

Now, the classroom looks well used.  Our book bins looked messy, and our portfolio containers are filled to the bursting.  Today, my kids will begin the process of packing up – they will collect their projects, and their portfolios, they will return the books they borrowed which have magically been discovered at the very bottom of those lockers they are also cleaning out.  By the time they leave on Thursday, and by the time I leave on Friday, our room will be back to being just a room filled with boxes and furniture and rolled up rugs. A place to be cleaned up, dusted, painted.

At the moment though, it is the room in which 32 children spent a year learning about things that matter: to be kind  and have intellectual integrity,  to be open and accepting of new ideas, to make reading and writing as natural a need as breathing, to think of history as a story  worth knowing.  We have such important work before us, every day of the school year.  Teaching matters.  And the year, which seemed so long in September, seems to have been rather short after all.

I find, with the sound of my kids racing up the stairwell and down the corridor to our room just beginning, that I am not ready to let go…

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26 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: I should be packing up, but….

  1. There is that moment in the fall when one realizes that a community has been made, and the rest of the year is the group’s memory together, I think. I understand the feeling, Tara. Best wishes in your goodbyes to each other. I wonder if you’ll read this post to the class? They would love it!

  2. Tara, As you know to everything there is a time… Having followed your posts this past year, I have come to realize that you are the teacher I would have requested for my children. Now is the time for you to savor the sweetness of a school year well done.

  3. I said goodbye to my first group of fifth graders almost two weeks ago. I find myself thinking about them and missing them. I didn’t feel that way when I taught younger grades, but knowing they’ll be off to intermediate school next year makes it harder. I love the end of the year – not because it’s the end, but because that’s when you know the kids the best and they know you.

  4. I’m wondering too why you’re packing up. Reading your reflection on the year makes me long to be a sixth grader and have experienced a year as a “Smithy.” Good luck with the packing!

  5. Packing up and saying goodbye is so hard!! I just finished the packing part of saying goodbye. It’s sad being in the room without the kids. Missing them already, but I’m ready for the days of summer. Best of luck with your end of year!!

  6. Your piece placed me right there with your full classroom waiting to be packed and your students saying goodbye, so bittersweet. All the changes we go through as teachers. And yes, what we do matters!

  7. Packing up is difficult. My room was always filled with the work of my students. Taking things down, returning them, putting things away left my room feeling institutional. But then I would think, “Next year this will be filled with new work from a new group of students.” I would just smile.

  8. We have been out of school for two and a half weeks and I can vaguely remember feeling just as you describe. We don’t need to pack our classrooms up but we do need to tidy and get everything off the floor, and I always try to put a day or two between the end of classes and the kids and the process of cleaning. This year it took a week. I loved this class- so many sweet kids, so many successful interventions, and so many laughs together. Because of yard duty, I know next year’s group will be tough. Now, as I set my classroom up for next year, I am excited to take on the challenge and begin strategizing about how to get them engaged and excited early on. I love that the bittersweet turns to new beginnings fairly quickly in our profession.
    Like so many others, I wish 1) my kids had been in your classroom 2) I could be in your classroom and/or 3) you taught at our school. Enjoy your summer.

  9. Good luck with the packing. Even though packing is challenging it doesn’t compare to the challenge of saying good-bye. School is never just a space but rather the community. Enjoy fully the last few days with your students.

  10. Packing and ending something is tough, until you get to the new thing, the new beginning. Enjoy that summer stack of reading in readiness for impacting your newbies next year and rest and relax over the summer knowing you have made a wonderful difference in 32 little lives. Time to switch gears. It’s SUMMER!!! 🙂

  11. What a beautiful post! Your students are blessed to have you for a teacher. Sounds like it has been a wonderful year, full of meaningful lessons! Enjoy the last few days. 🙂

  12. You write of the sadness of ending the school year. I feel it….and that is why I am doing this….rather than writing end of the year reports which would mean….that the end is really near!

  13. I always had such a hard time at the end of the year. I would cry for the last two weeks. It is so difficult to say goodbye to the community we create. It is clear from your writing that these students are very fortunate to have you as their teacher. Enjoy those last moments!
    Clare and Tammy

  14. Oh Tara, now I remember your comment on my post two weeks ago! I think every teacher who loves this work like we do feels this way. Just think of all that was accomplished this year, and imagine all that will come next year!

  15. I can hear the bittersweetness in your voice. Saying good-bye is never easy, especially when you’ve created a strong learning community such as yours. Enjoy these last few days.

  16. Tara, this is exactly how I felt last week. You just don’t want to let them go. This is so true too.”…the year, which seemed so long in September, seems to have been rather short after all.” I’m still looking at videos they did! Looking forward to NYC!

  17. It’s so easy to feel your love for your kids and for teaching. They aren’t going to be ready to let go either!

    This paragraph is amazing…

    “At the moment though, it is the room in which 32 children spent a year learning about things that matter: to be kind and have intellectual integrity, to be open and accepting of new ideas, to make reading and writing as natural a need as breathing, to think of history as a story worth knowing. We have such important work before us, every day of the school year. Teaching matters. And the year, which seemed so long in September, seems to have been rather short after all.”

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