As my second year as an educator comes to a close, I have wondered more than once “will each year be like this?”  I’m not sure I’m convinced, but my colleagues have assured me: “this has been the hardest year ever.” I assume it’s normal at this time to be counting down the days; but I am certain that it is this year’s circumstances which inspired some to start their countdown in January.

Each of us, at different times, has cried out for the end. 

We have cried out because most days we feel lost, and that there is too much that is out of our control. Teaching is, and always will be,  influenced by the outside world. We are tasked with taking structural inequities and injustices – of poverty, of race, of sexuality, of gender – and creating a more just, equitable world. But with the pandemic accentuating those inequities, challenging our students’ lives in a multitude of ways, being in the classroom has felt like too much at times; and has felt like, as educators, we are eternally not enough. Whether it be right, or wrong, or just natural, we have looked towards the end. 

But now the end is here. The ending is especially profound for me because it is my second year with the same group of students; the same group that, many days, has given me my biggest smile, my greatest challenge, and my deepest sense of awe and gratitude. 

Over the last two years, I have been witness to immense growth. In the classroom, students have learned to communicate meaningfully, give feedback, and revise. They have been challenged to collaborate in team debates, group seminars, and a school-wide door decorating contest that inspired unforeseen partnerships. Recently, our students showed their willingness to overcome challenges, as nearly half of them went canoeing for the first time as part of a field work day. Likewise, self-directed students demonstrated positive community membership by helping our canoeing guides clean up their gear.

Lastly, over these two years my heart has been filled as I have watched our students celebrate each other; in response to exemplary in-class answers, after brave presentations, and during an “identity day,” which featured runway walks, loud cheers, and a community potluck. 


Despite the hardships of the past two years, or perhaps because of them,  I know how I will feel at the end. I know that despite the behaviors I have had to confront and (learn how to) manage in my classroom, despite the feeling of letting my students down, despite a desire for the year to be over on several occasions– I know that there has been so much good. Despite myself, I know I will cry on the last day – not for the end, but because of it. 

I will cry for the students who have laughed along at my silly jokes, and the students who made me laugh in return. I will cry for the students who have reminded us that curiosity is in us all, and lifelong passion can be unlocked with one book, image, or discussion.

Yes, I will smile and cry as I remember the students, only 12 years my junior, who taught me new “hip” lingo (Yassss!). I will cry for the students who showed up ready to learn, who trusted me to help them, in school and in life, who celebrated their classmates’ learning and extracurricular accomplishments, who even celebrated (and cringed at) me, who took action and leadership to improve our learning and our community.

And I will cry because I know I will hear and watch as they grow; as they enact the vision they have for this world; as they live lives of curiosity, learning and challenge; as they continue to overcome barriers, with resilience, determination, and the everlasting (if invisible) support of their seventh grade social studies teacher. 

— Special to the Press Herald

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