It’s almost here, y’all. That magical time when anything and everything seem possible: THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.
Yep. And on the Wednesday before the last day of school, pretty much all teachers want to be able to do this:
But the truth is, only about a third of the teachers out there during an average school year end up behaving like this on the last day of school. I call them The Stoics.
Teachers who have either a) determined that their tiny birds are ready to fly the nest and put a healthy amount of emotional distance between them and the kiddos over the previous weeks or b)been so overwhelmed by all of the crap that the students have put them through that they’re ready to GTFO no matter what.
The Dignified Weeper
Here is the happy medium between the two extremes, and what every teacher actually aims for at the end of the year.
No one wants the bottom one, we all want to be that teacher who’s so touched to see her little soldiers march off to high school that we shed just a few, delicate and heart-felt tears.
Just a few classy and easy-to-wipe-away tears say, “I really enjoy my job. I make meaningful but appropriate attachments and I’m proud of my students.” It’s the traditional movie-teacher response to bidding farewell to the almost-people you’ve spoken to more than their own parents have over the past year.
It’s elegant, in its own way.
But we can’t all be the Audrey Hepburn of teaching every year. Sometimes, we have to be the Toby Maguire…
The Ugly Crier
A teacher who goes by many names: the one with the soft spot, Miss Emotional (yes, I was called that – how ridiculous), over-attached, Kim Kardashian…whatever you choose to call this one, be gentle. This particular individual may be all of those things, but usually there’s a reason that she (maybe he!) has given in to the Ugly Cry.
Normally, this teacher has some inkling that it’s going to be a hard day. He/she knows that saying goodbye will be extraordinarily painful for one reason or another – maybe it has nothing to do with the students themselves (though I highly doubt it) and everything to do with the teacher’s life. Or, more likely, maybe it’s because that one special kid is leaving.
So, the teacher spends the day reminding themselves that there are other parts of their job they like, of the students they’re excited to still get to teach next year, all the while silently chanting:
But, much like the Borg or eating more than one Pringle, you can’t resist. It starts out dignified, and then it builds and builds and it’s like you’re watching the end of Old Yeller for the first time all over again.
You’re Ugly Crying and there’s nothing you can do about it.
The truth is, I’ve been each of these people during different years. Sometimes, I’ve even been all of these people at different points in the school day during the same year. It all depends on the relationships that I build with the kids – and how crazy the kids are.
Seriously. They’re always crazy. Some more so than others.
My first year teaching? Mostly a Stoic, but a little Dignified Weeper snuck in there when I realized I made it. My second year I was essentially a Dignified Weeper the whole day, thinking about those kiddos I’d taught for a whopping two years headed off to high school. Then there was my third year. Most of the day I was Dignified leaning toward Ugly Crier until the end of the day. THEN I turned into the BIGGEST Ugly Crier EVER when I said goodbye to my babies – one in particular – that I’d had for 3 years.
Oh, and last year I went back to mostly Stoic. Usually, I don’t know what kind of year it’s going to be in the lead-up, it’s all about how the last week goes. But this year, I know. I’ve known since the very beginning of the school year.
This year is an Ugly Crier year.
So far, I’ve said goodbye to two classes as a Stoic. But both of those classes were “underclassmen” that I’ll get to see next year. And the third class I said goodbye to…well, we were distracted by spending our last day splatter-painting.
Truth: I will Ugly-Cry pretty spectacularly at the end of the day if not before.
This Friday, I say goodbye to two students I’ve had for 4 long years, and one who was in my first class my first day teaching, an amazing 5 years ago. I literally cannot imagine teaching without seeing “my son” in the school.
But I guess I will! It will be different. It will be an adjustment. It will cue some ugly crying. At least I’m in good company.
And what comes after ugly crying? Youuuuu guessed it! Delicious drinking. And a relaxing summer off.