The students left school on Thursday. They physically removed themselves from my room, but the reminders of their presence still hang on my walls and clutter my bookshelves.
Friday was a teacher work day. I cleaned out paper and digital files; I organized and deleted, but the reminders of the student presence was still there. I saved key samples of work and archived Google Classroom assignments. I said goodbye to a principal and joined my department in presenting him signed mementos of our Major League efforts under his coaching and supervision.
I woke up on Saturday morning trying to remind myself that it was my first day of summer vacation, but I really didn’t have that feeling until I woke up on Monday. As my eleven-year-old daughter slept late, I snuck in a few Netflix shows I can’t watch when she’s around and tried to remember all of the errands and plans I had, not only for that day, but for the whole summer. There were many things on that list—everything from self-care to planning for the next school year. But first thing was going to the school to prep for this summer’s professional development.
I looked forward and I looked back. As I recalled and reflected upon what went well last year, a myriad of student faces populated the walls of my memories. Then, *Ding* I got a Remind.com text (an app that so many people still call Remind 101) from a parent about her son. I answered her question, but then decided it was time to clean out this account.
So, I have since learned the recommendations to archive classes and reuse favorite codes (https://www.remind.com/blog/class-cleanup), but, yesterday, I just went through and clicked on each connection, then clicked “Remove From Class.”
I was not prepared for how much it broke my heart each time I severed that tie. The act of willfully letting go, then the emotional impact of each deletion needed to be put to words as my core being strove to find meaning and process these reactions.
What metaphor could I choose? This feeling reminded me of the old practice of marking people out of an address book once they mysteriously moved with no forwarding information or the modern practice of unfriending someone on social media. My former students, their parents/guardians, and I no longer have that seemingly instant and direct way to communicate.
As I contemplated metaphors, I found an interesting resource that I want to remember to order:
And just like that…as I sit here and read excerpts from this resource, my melancholy takes flight. The raven is no longer pecking at my heart. An owl has swooped in….a Hedwig of inspiration, giving me hope and perspective out of these clouds and tears, guides me towards the adventures that my next school year holds.
Through the effort of trying to remember words to express my grieving for the connections that are done, I have found mentor texts and examples for next year’s lessons.
The lesson cycle has moved past closure to the rest that separates it from the next engagement.
The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.
Katy Wheeler is looking forward to her 12th year as a public school teacher. She has wanted to teach as long as she can remember. Her educational philosophy incorporates the following ideas:
Education must be holistic and comprehensive in its approach. Education must be ongoing and progressive. Education must be student-centered.
Whether it’s teaching public school, private school, university level, or overseas, Mrs. Wheeler tries to always focus on doing what will help her students find success.