Teaching: A Roller Coaster of Celebration and Sadness

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Celebration and sadness in teaching

At the end of the school year, there is always a mix of celebration and sadness. Teachers love to talk about school being over. We love to remind each other how close we are to the next weekend, vacation, or the end of the year. We have countdowns way before it even crosses a student’s mind. 

The school I work for has a tradition of all the teachers lining up down the hallway and out the door on the last day of school. We wave streamers, blow bubbles, and clap as the students get on the bus. We jump and cheer as the buses pull out, and then cheer even more once they officially drive away! I am as psyched as anyone else when those buses roll out and I get to have some time to myself (and not have to spend one more minute reminding someone AGAIN how we walk in the hallway and “don’t you dare roll your eyes at me!”).

Being a teacher is HARD. It’s so hard. It’s exciting, heartbreaking, frustrating, wonderful, thankless, and rewarding, all wrapped up with an exhausting bow. I am always thrilled to have the weekends, snow days and vacations to go back to my “non-teacher self” (I call it “Vacation Hannah” vs. “Teacher Hannah” and they are very different people). I enjoy every minute of a vacation (and teachers, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you don’t deserve that break!).

And yet, there is both celebration and sadness. The tricky thing about being a teacher is that as soon as you have a break, you miss those crazy kiddos. Teaching is a constant love-hate relationship that pulls you back in every time. 

I teach elementary ESOL- English to Speakers of Other Languages. I work with kids who speak other languages and help them succeed in school until they don’t need my help anymore. This usually means I have the same students every year until they graduate out of the program or when they move up to middle school. This is a blessing in so many ways. I get to build a strong relationship with kids that I love like my own. I see them grow from tiny kindergarteners, some with no English when they walk in the door, to confident 5th graders, ready to take on a new adventure known as middle school. I know I’ve done my job when they don’t need me anymore. But that’s HARD. It’s so hard. Spending five to six years with a child makes them so much more than just a student. They’re my kids. I spend so many hours with them for several years, and then, as quickly as they come, they leave.

The blessing and curse of teaching is that we spend a short time pouring all our effort into these little ones, and then we have to let them go. We spend countless hours looking at their data, talking about what’s working and what’s not working, telling stories to our family, rejoicing in the victories, and crying when something fails. Then, after investing our entire lives into them, we wave the buses off and hope for the best. Knowing that you’re only one chapter in their life can be both wonderful and heartbreaking. 

I’m preparing myself for the end of this school year. I have students graduating 5th grade that I have worked with since 1st grade. I know them inside and out. I know what help they need, and when they need to do it themselves (even if they say they can’t!). I know their families, their friends, their strengths, what makes them laugh, and what they’ll say before they say it. I know I may cry when they step on that bus for the last time. I know they’ll be ready for it even if I won’t be. So while I will celebrate when I wave goodbye to their buses, there will always be a bit of sadness with it. 


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hmorrett

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