This ain’t my first rodeo, but it’s a bittersweet symphony

My first two years of teaching, I cried so hard on the last day of school because I just couldn’t bear to see those babies go. More seasoned teachers told me that would pass, but at the time, I couldn’t even fathom a time when I wouldn’t cry at the end of the year, because those kids just get so deep in my heart.

Turns out, they were right. Since my third year, I haven’t cried on the last day, I’ve looked forward to summer. Now, before you go thinking inaccurate thoughts, it wasn’t summer “break”, because I always had a summer job and/or classes I was taking, but I looked forward to a change. Not that I loved the kids any less, I didn’t. They still get into my heart and they’ll always be “my kids”. But I think as I’ve gotten older and more into adulthood and come in to my adult life a little more, I have more things and people that matter to me; a broader perspective, I guess.

And, TBH, there are just some kids I am fully ready to send on. There are also those that drove me nuts at the beginning of the year, and by the end I am their biggest champion and will go to the mat for them every time. I did that just this week, actually.

But. Today I got some handwritten thank-you notes from some of the kids, and they were adorable and one said she didn’t want school to be over because she didn’t want to leave her FIRST teacher. And one of the parents took an end-of-the-year picture of her daughter with me and our classroom IA, and then sent it to the school telling them how great her daughter’s school year was, and how much she had learned, and how thankful she was. And you know about the thank-you message from earlier this week. And another mom sent in a book for me about coping with the loss of your baby, with the kindest note about how it had helped her when she went through this grief.

But. Without knowing it at the time, today was the last day of me being in a general education classroom.

There was an ESL teacher opening at our school and I applied for it earlier in the spring. Before my miscarriage, before the world split into “before” and “after”. The ESL teacher and I had worked together closely at the school, and because I had my ESL cert and truly loved working with those students, I had been pulling the incoming ESL kindergarteners into my classroom as it was. When I found out that she was retiring, I was adamant that whoever filled her position needed to be as invested in those kids as she had been. Then I realized, if I didn’t at least try, I would regret it. Because I was already invested in these kids. The youngest ones, but also the oldest since I had started my time at this school teaching middle school Language Arts.

I interviewed shortly after I returned to school after losing the baby, and hadn’t heard a word since. I had gotten to the point where I was pretty calm about the idea of not getting it. Given everything that’s happened recently, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I stayed in kindergarten. I was ready. It would be fine. Then, this morning, as the kids are of course going nuts and we’re trying to get the last of their classroom stuff into their bookbags, the head honcho calls the classroom and asks to see me. This has never happened.

When I went to see him, he told me he would be recommending me to the board to be appointed as the new ESL teacher. If I really wanted it, he stressed. Which I did, and I told him so. But it is a little bittersweet. I almost feel like I didn’t have time to emotionally prepare to leave the classroom. I love that I’ll still have contact with students all through the school, and that I’m able to move into this position at my current school. I love that I’ll be able to work with a broader range of teachers from primary to secondary. I’m grateful, and excited, but a part of me is still a little sad, I guess. Which I didn’t expect.

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