Original publish date: May 2017
In a few days, I will be saying goodbye to yet another amazing class who I’ve shared hundreds of mornings and experiences with. Smart, talented little people who I met three years ago and who I watched grow to what they are today. Saying goodbye is maybe one of the hardest parts of this job.
Being a teacher means devoting time and energy to preparing sturdy ships only to let them sail away. We talk about everything else so often… Discipline issues, pedagogy, methods, class management, materials, compensation. I don’t think there’s enough talk about goodbyes. Probably because we don’t really like to talk about it.
However, a major part of this job is teaching your students how to be okay without you. Giving them all that’s necessary to leave school behind and find out their own place in the world. This is clearer with older kids who leave school having made major decisions and having taken big exams. But younger students leave school at that precise point that separates childhood from adolescence. That is maybe the biggest change they will ever experience, physically, mentally and emotionally. As soon as they’ve left primary school, they’ll never be children again.
And you find yourself wondering… Will they be safe? Will they be happy? Will they find themselves in the sea of faces? Will they be ok? It doesn’t matter. It isn’t your business anymore. All you can do is hope you’ve done your job properly. Taught them to appreciate themselves in order to demand respect from others. And that knowledge is a journey without destination. And that they should never stop trying and fighting for the best.
This is a small sample of what they gave me over the course of three years. Just a tiny wedge of their talent and powers of creativity. I can’t show you their hidden songs, their tears of joy and pain, their struggles with acceptance, their sense of belonging, all their great achievements and that mystical look in their eyes everytime we climbed a new mountain and they realised a new truth about themselves. Those are just for me. I am sorry. I am just that lucky. I’m a teacher.