It happens to me every year. It is the worst part of the school year. The end is approaching, and after 20 years, you would think I would learn to do this last few days with some sort of grace and equanimity... but no.
Let's see. What will I remember about this crowd?
They have been sweet. Yes -- 6th graders, now mostly with 12 years of living to their credit, who are sweet, gentle, innocent, funny little humans just coming into the first weeks and months of their transition to adulthood. It is a rare thing, in our culture, to find a group of kids who are just that -- kids. There has been very little that was difficult or challenging or hard to manage about my class this year: no big behavioral issues or social conflicts or lying or cheating or stealing or... They have been good to each other and they have been good for me and to me and with me.
I believe that it is my job, my obligation, my responsibility, my calling to give every class the very best of who I am every single minute of every single day, and I do have moments when I feel like I've called it in this year. There has been a lot of intensity in our "out of school" world this year. I have, many days, driven to school knowing that my little classroom was saner, safer, calmer, and more "normal seeming" than anyplace else in my world. I've worked hard to keep that place a sanctuary -- for them, but for me too.
And so, we've grown through the year together -- my kids and I. They've learned to add and subtract and multiply and divide their fractions. They've looked into the mysteries of genetics and evolution. They've reached out to the local Muslim community and found how wondrous it is to create friendship in a world torn by hatred and suspicion. They've laughed together at the antics of Justin Bieber, and cried with a classmate who lost a parent just days after Christmas. And they have taught their teacher to enjoy simple things -- like silly stickers and the occasional piece of candy and singing at every opportunity... Because, like them, life is sweet.
Time for summer. Time to rest up to get ready to do it again in the fall. Time to say goodbye to a new set of 7th graders. Once again -- the end.