Elvis has left the building. It was oddly anticlimactic. I had to run down to my classroom and get something for someone and really didn't get to say goodbye personally to most of my students. No hugs. No "Have a good summer!" echoing in my classroom. No personal exchanges at all. Very different from years past.
In a way, it was a relief. The last day of school can be kind of emotionally draining for the kids and the staff. I really enjoyed my students this year and I hope they come back to greet me next year when they are big 7th graders. But saying goodbye over and over and over... the faces start to blur and the words become less than sincere. Plus, there was that lingering doubt about whether I had taught them anything at all.
I always do this. Spring is the most introspective time for me. We take the state test in early May and then I get 6 or 7 weeks of wondering if I did my job well enough to take the kids to the next level. We won't get the test results until late August and until then... I think, I plot , I scheme, I plan... I ask myself, "What can I do next year to make it even better? How can I arrange my classroom, my schedule, and my lessons in order to help my students really learn the material?"
I have a big chunk of the summer to ponder those questions. I have a big chunk of the summer to re-read my favorite books about teaching, meet with colleagues, and just let my brain noodle over the various ideas. It's this way with most teachers I know- we really don't get 3 months "off" in the summer. We get about 8 weeks of no official responsibilities, but we hit the ground running in late August- armed with knowledge and optimism and hopes for a brand new year.
But before that, I have to go back in to the building to pack up a few more boxes, purge some paperwork, label everything because it will be moved out of the way for the new carpets, and grab my African violet off the windowsill. Then I will be done. For now.
Last night I turned off the alarm on my clock radio. It felt so good.