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Sorting Through the Memories

It’s that time of the school year when teachers everywhere begin, in earnest, the countdown to the final day of class.

Preparations are being made…final lesson plans tweaked…semester exams drawn up.

Inspirational posters, anchor charts, and student works of art are beginning to come off of walls. Folders are being cleaned out, and the recycle bins are overflowing.

Part of the closure progress for me, this year, will be to create individual class slideshows.  I’m a bit of a shutterbug and have taken hundreds of pictures of my students.  At first, they were shy…reluctant to pose for photos.  As their trust in me grew, so did their willingness to participate.

So here I sit, the Saturday after finalizing Smartboard files to be using during the next three weeks of class, working on my final big project for the year.

I’m culling through the aforementioned photos…deleting the blurry ones…and reminiscing about what each photo depicts.

I’ll admit that I am getting teary eyed as I stare at the cap and gown pictures I snapped the first couple of days.  I remember the nervous giggles as each student donned the apparel.  They didn’t know their classmates very well, so they were a little self-conscious, even though I’d set up my “studio” away from the masses.

The walk down Memory Lane continues as I pause at the pictures that depict an activity in which students had to line themselves up by last name.  They were provided one directive:  read the instructions on the board and finish the activity.  It was my chance to observe my students in action.  Not surprisingly, the students who took charge were the ones who continued to lead the class all year long…both in good ways and bad…a great example of how each skill is like a two-sided coin with potential for good and bad according to the intent.

The pictures are very revealing, showing students working together to create projects…having in-depth discussions on how to organize information (they were probably actually discussing the latest gossip)…arguing their cases with vehemence, as depicted by pointed fingers and serious facial expressions.

From beginning to end, I see a progression.

At first, students were very separate individuals.

Then, like separate droplets of water, they came together as one, drawn by common experiences, interests, and goals.

Teaching is very much like parenting.

Teachers are given new babes.  We have to learn the nuances of our charges and use our knowledge to foster relationships.

We encourage.

We set high standards.

We hold students accountable when they aren’t meeting the standards.

We equip them for life without us.

And then we watch them walk out of our classrooms on that final day, say a prayer as they leave, and wave goodbye with tears in our eyes.

Sorting through these pictures helps me to remember what a privilege it is to have the chance to impact so many lives in such a short span of time.

The pictures, which show many activities, broad smiles, and even raised eyebrows of sarcasm, bear witness to a year of hard work, friendship, and lots of love.

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