No More Pencils, no More Books...
Today I completed my fifteenth year of teaching. In many ways, teaching teenagers has gotten easier with time. Of course, in other ways, it's more difficult. As the age gap between my students and I grows, the more I get emotionally connected to them. I was almost 23 years old in my first year of teaching. Some of my students were only five years younger than I was. It was challenging to get them to know I was not their friend, and I had to earn their respect.
At 37, with 20 years between my students and I, that part is a bit easier. Some students find it easy to open up with someone who is a mother figure. They know I won't judge them, and I'll listen. Now that I'm older, I feel I can listen to their rants against parents, friends and homework and maintain distance and respect as their teacher.
All teachers take their students' stories home with them. Anyone who works with troubled youth will find it is unavoidable, which makes putting their struggles aside when I get home difficult. So, now that there are two months between us, I know I will think about them often, curious to hear if they got the job, if Mom moved into her new house, if little sister is doing better after her surgery, etc. I think about all of it.
I am grateful for the time I will spend with my own children, for the letting go of the rush and grind and prepping lunches and the accumulated laundry, but behind it is always thoughts about my other kids. I can't help it, I'm a teacher. Still, I absolutely look forward to the freedom summer brings. So, to everyone who get to sing along, enjoy!