Goodbye Colleagues

 

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

A lame joke: What are the two best things about being a teacher?

July and August.

I don’t know who made that joke, but I would bet he or she was a burnt out teacher.

Don’t get me wrong. Every teacher I know circles the final day of the school year on their calendar either mentally or physically.

I certainly am guilty of this though I can just see my mom wagging her finger in front of me saying stop rushing the time away.

Despite this warning, I was counting up the school days in September anxious to get to 180. I said it was in solidarity with my nephew who was anxious to complete his senior year (he graduated the other day – congratulations DS), but it was not 100% true. I wanted summer and freedom. Well, I lost count around day 30.  I restarted when there were 30 days left.

Yesterday was the last day of regular instruction for my students.

And I felt a tinge of sadness and nostalgia when I said goodbye to my seniors (not so much with the sophomores). I always feel this to an extent but yesterday was more so. I took a picture with them, made a farewell speech, and they clapped.

Maybe, the nostalgia was due to having the entire class (save for two changes) since September where normally we switch up at the end of January. We bonded. Maybe, it was the trip a bunch of us took a few weeks ago to see the Jackie Robinson biopic (http://larrydbernstein.com/a-real-hero/).

Yes, it’s natural to bond with the students and that is a quality of a good teacher. However, I don’t want to feel too connected. Don’t scratch your heads. Let me explain.

You all have colleagues whom you see on a regular basis. Well sometimes those colleagues enter a different realm.  He/she becomes someone you have lunch with or you talk about last night’s game or laugh about a movie you both saw. This someone is no longer merely a colleague but is a friend.

My students are my colleagues.  I see them every day. We talk, laugh, and learn (I hope).  Yet, I cannot be friends with them – that is inappropriate and a bit odd. I certainly care about them and wish them well.

During my first year of teaching, I was consumed with the profession. I would talk about my challenges and the students all the time. Every conversation came around to teaching. It was consuming. I realized then, with the help of some more veteran colleagues and friends who were in the profession, that if I wanted to stay in the job, I would have to allow myself some distance.

It was sage advice. Each year I have gotten better at separating life and work. This separation makes me a better teacher, father, and husband. I still think about the students and lessons but now, I am not consumed by the thought of work.

It’s not always easy. I remember my 5th year of teaching. The first class I worked with as freshmen (and taught many of them in their later years) were no longer in the building. I was walking the halls and looking for Nicole, Wesley, Diana, etc. even though they had graduated the past June. It was a tough transition.

So, I miss my students. I wish them well as they move on. Next year, I will have a whole new set of colleagues. Bring them on. First, I will enjoy July and August.

Courtesy of Google

Courtesy of Google

26 thoughts on “Goodbye Colleagues

  1. When I worked in preschool, I often got very attached to the little ones, and would visit them in their “big kid” classes once they moved out of mine. I think it was hard for me to distance myself, which I agree is something all teachers need to be able to do. Have a connection without being too attached/personal. Be human without being transparent. It was a mothering thing for me. It was like having hundreds of babies grow up and move on over nine years. 😉 Enjoy your summer!

    • I think it would be interesting in term of seeing growth – literally – to teach the young children as you did. When it comes to working w/seniors, the last days means good bye. I rarely here from students after school. Well, there is still graduation and those sort of days.

  2. It’s so good to know that the teachers in the higher classes enjoy their students and miss them! I know the little kids’ teachers love them, but high school seems more impersonal somehow. Maybe because you never have to wipe their noses or tie their shoes.

    I hope you enjoy every day of your summer. We’ll be headed off on vacation early tomorrow, so I might miss your next post. My phone gets spotty in northern Michigan. 🙂 I’m going to attempt to write my next post tonight and schedule it for tomorrow, but it might not happen. Too much to do!

    Sleep in and watch a few hours of Spongebob with the boys!

    • Actually, I still have work for two weeks – paperwork, clean-up, proctoring, etc. It’s not nearly the same and the stress melts away. Btw, I don’t know if I could handle wiping noses.
      Enjoy your vacation. What’s in Northern Michigan? You know life does exist outside of Michigan?
      I look forward to your next post.

    • Thanks. I do too. It actually does not start till the end of the month. The next couple of weeks are for testing, clean-up, and paperwork.

  3. YAY for summer!! I admire your ability to separate yourself from your students. I become too attached to people, one of my fatal character flaws, so I would probably be a horrible teacher in that regard. I’m glad you survived the school year and are looking forward to summer vacation. Congrats to your nephew.

    • Fatal character flaw? Remember that movie Single White Female. The one room mate attaches to the other. Weird and creepy. I doubt your like that.
      Thanks on behalf of my nephew and for your well wishes.

  4. July and august are just the best months when your a teacher.
    I wonder what the reason was for giving you a new class in january was. Maks no sense.
    I think teaches need to know the children in order to teach them better.

    • Are you a teacher as well?
      One good thing about changing in January was that if it is not a good mix – you get to shake things up. Plus, it allows students to change and grow as they are part of a different environment.
      I agree that knowing the students generally helps the teacher be more effective.

  5. Hi,
    A very well written article and I can imagine that letting go after 180 days is difficult. I don’t believe that every teacher has the opportunity to bond with their class; that you had that chance is one of the golden nuggets you should put in your treasure chest.
    Have a happy two months off. The time will go much faster than you think and before you know it, September will be here. So relax and enjoy so that you’ll be prepared for your next year’s challenge.

    Ciao,
    Patricia

    • Thanks Pat.
      Every teacher has the opportunity. The question is whether they take it and make it happen. Not always so easy.
      I have a couple of weeks at school and then summer really begins. I plan on enjoying my time but I have many goals as well. However, I need you to stop rushing my time.
      Thank you!

      • Will do my best! I am sitting here laughing because I want to write, time ………. but won’t finish the sentence so that you can stay in your summer mode.
        Have a good day.
        Ciao,
        Pa

        • Thanks for that mute button.
          Believe me, I am one who contstantly strives to be productive. I have been working on my Summer to do list for months. I’ll probably write about it very soon.
          Btw, you sound a bit like my mother here. Jusy saying.

          • No wonder you are smart. Hanging with people like your mother and me tends to make people shine. 🙂 Thanks for the compliment.

            Ciao,
            Pat

  6. That was super sweet! Such a great insight and I’m super excited for you for your summer break! I hope you guys get to have some fun!

    • Thanks Kate. I am sure we will have plenty of fun. However, I have many goals as well. I anticipate a post about it. I still have 2 more weeks of school – standardized tests, paperwork, clean-up. And then it is summer!

  7. Some of my former students have become teachers at the school I now teach at. It took them a while to feel comfortable using my first name. It took me a while to be comfortable hearing it from them too!

    • Nice to communicate with you Paul. I left a comment on your sister’s blog earlier this evening.
      Anyway, we actually call each other – for the most part – by last name. I did have one student come back and student teach. It was kind of cool to see him in that role. However, I still thought of him as my student.

  8. Larry, I hope you will enjoy your summer! I’m not a teacher but I do understand how difficult it can be separating work and life & I think it’s normal and very good of you to miss your students! 🙂

  9. Weird… why does this blog post give me the impression that teaches got too much vacation time? LOL (Just teasing, Larry!)
    I like your blog post and I think it’s a sign of how you are as a teacher when you’re going to miss your students.
    Well written!!
    Oh – and have a GREAT summer vacation with your wonderful family!!

    • You may be right! However, lets keep that to ourselves. Another week of paperwork, etc. and then I will do my best to have a great summer vacation.

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