Every year, it happens: someone asks, with total confidence in my response, "How will you make it without us next year?". They expect me to say, "Oh, God! I'll be so miserable! What will I ever do?!?". My response, though, is never what they want to hear, "I'll be just fine." And, I will. I will because I've been teaching high school students for 10 years now and every year, seniors graduate, and every year, I survive. In fact, I'm often pretty glad to see them go. And, if they didn't go, it would be a real bummer. A bunch of 20-somethings wandering around still taking Algebra and Team Sports? Huge bummer.
Still, they can't imagine a world that goes on doing what it does without them. They've never had to. I remember my first few classes of seniors. I was genuinely sad to see some of them go. I knew I would miss them terribly and I even sometimes felt I'd like to be in their shoes again: fresh-faced and with my whole life in front of me. I was jealous that they got to leave and I was stuck there...still talking about The Great Gatsby and Huck Finn. That's when I knew I needed to find another career path!
Now, I've reached a point in my life - twenty years from my own high school graduation - where I am over the hubbub. Yes, you're graduating and it's great, but the next class will do it, too. Then, the next class. Then, the next. It will keep happening and they'll keep going out into the world and finding their way. It's what has to happen in order for any of us to survive. I am not interested in celebrating it anymore. Luckily, the celebrations aren't for me. So, I don't have to invest in them.
I'm the yearbook adviser again this year. Last year, I created the book myself. My student volunteers were sweet but not very helpful. This year, I had a class of students who worked hard on it until January, when the semester (and the class) ended. Today, I called my editors back in to ask them to help me finish the book before next week's deadline. Previously, I might have sweated and stressed about it all by myself. I might have finished the book alone after hours and hours of hard work. This year, I have come to terms with the fact that it isn't my yearbook. I'm not graduating from high school. I don't have to do it all by myself. In fact, the students should be invested in producing a beautiful yearbook for themselves...and, luckily, they are. So, I'm passing it off to them, which is how it's supposed to be.
I'm leaving this job at the end of the school year. I haven't officially given my notice but it's an open secret because of this blog. Everyone knows about my road trip. I think the best way to celebrate my graduation is to hand off all of the weight I've been carrying around for my students to my students. That's how you really help educate. I needed to learn it first, apparently, but now that I know, it's a relief. Ten years of teaching and working with high schoolers and I finally understand what being a teacher really means.
Now, I'm ready to graduate to the next phase of my life. I don't know what that is yet, but I'm sure that I'll learn something entirely new...and then, I hope I can pass it on.