Bryan Crown, the PE Teacher and Adventure Coordinator of our school was sitting in the dreaded ‘hot seat’. He was in the middle of a circle of students and they were giving him compliments and words of appreciation. We’d spent an emotional few days at Camp Tuttle with our 9th graders. The kids had all had a chance to be in the hot seat and had heard compliments form students and teachers. There was a wonderful feeling in the room.
Then, Cassey said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. She talked about how Mr. Crown had treated the students like a privilege. It was a powerful insight from a deep thinker, about a guy who well, basically, just loves kids. And they know it. They can feel it.
As I looked around the room, I thought about each of the kids in the circle in those terms and realized that it really is a privilege to know them. Hopefully some of them let you in and you have the opportunity to influence them and to help them become their best selves. But just knowing them and understanding their individual stories, their dreams, and their hopes is an enormous privilege. And maybe I had taken that for granted.
A friend of mine had the opportunity to speak at her graduation this week. One of the points that she made was that kids spend about 2,340 days in school. I thought about that. 2,340 days, where for much of the day, kids are away from their parents. If I thought about that a different way I would state it like this. Parents send the most important people in their lives to us for 2,340 days of their formative years. That takes a lot of trust. And sometimes, maybe, I take that for granted. That might be the wrong way to say it. Maybe I just needed to reflect, again, on the magnitude of that decision and the way the day to day grind of being at school just becomes life. Maybe I needed to reflect on the fact that the opportunity that I have, as a teacher, is special.
Teaching has to be one of the most complex professions out there. It’s stressful and there is always more to be done than there are hours in the day. And sometimes those things can get in the way of remembering why we started teaching and what a privilege it is to interact with a couple dozen young humans every day.
The end of the school year brought that into focus for me yesterday. I usually have, well, a mini meltdown at the end of each year. This year it was a little less meltdownish. I sat in my office after the teacher celebration lunch and read through the short notes that students had written me… and I let myself be sad for a few minutes.
That’s why I call the last day of school the happiest and saddest day of the year. We are happy because we are going to get a break from the stress and complexity of teaching. But it is sad, at least for me, because I look forward to seeing and talking to the kids every single day. Summer means that I won’t get that for a while. And for some kids, I may never see them again. Booooo.
So, ya, Cassey set off a whole bunch of sentimental thoughts in me that day at Camp Tuttle. I’m already looking forward to next school year. And to all of the students who I have had the chance to know… Thank you!
It’s been a privilege.
It still is!