Enough

Today is the last day of classes. In 20 minutes the bell will ring, some wild song will play over the PA system, and students will flood the hallway. Right now I’m sitting in the Spec Ed room – nearly empty except for two students who are working right up to the end – and I’m feeling… conflicted.

I’m thinking about the weeks before I left for college – so long ago, now – when my mother and I fought and fought. In the middle of one particularly loud fight, she screamed, “There’s so much more I need to teach you!” and I screamed back, “You’ve had enough time! I’m ready to go already! I know enough!” With the truth suddenly naked in the middle of our argument, we stopped fighting and cried. We didn’t fight again before I left.

We were both right, of course: I had so much more to learn, and I was ready to go.

The end of the school year often feels like that to me. I want to hold on to my students; I have so much more to teach them. There’s more writing, more reading, more that they need. I’ve only just figured out how they fit together. I can imagine one more unit that they might love. And I worry, too: What if they’re not ready for their next teacher or for university? What if it’s not enough?

But it is enough. It has to be. They’re already ready to go. They know what they know and it’s time to move forward.

The bell rings, the music plays and out they stream into the hallway. A few pop into the room. One more hug. One more high five. One more head pokes through the doorway, “Goodbye, Miss! See you in September!”

Exams start tomorrow. Now it’s all on them. They are confident that they are ready for whatever comes their way.

I sit for a few heartbeats more – emptied out by another semester, reminding myself that this is enough.

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28 thoughts on “Enough

      1. So… I didn’t quite get transitioned until this weekend. Renovations, moving, grades due, commencement… it’s been busy. But I’m at my mom’s now & starting to let go. 🙂

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  1. I agree w/your post wholeheartedly. And you know whats funny? Every year its totally different. Sometimes, I’ve had enough, or sometimes I want a little more time (I feel like I failed) and some I don’t want to let go. . .

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    1. Most years I end up feeling a crazy mix of emotions. The more I work with at-risk students, the more bittersweet the end is. The connection is real – and so is the need for more time!

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  2. I can relate! I am working on the one-page profiles for the students and thinking of all the things I need to tell their new teacher about them. I also had a peek at class lists for next year and am thinking about who I would like to spend another year with. From everything you have written his year, I feel like your students are ready to go…and they have still have more to learn. 🙂

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    1. I am still astonished that your district does this one-page profiles. They are kind of amazing, but so so so much work. Still, I wonder if I might enjoy making them for my tiny class. Hmmm… Also, we still don’t even know our teaching assignments much less our class lists for next year. Gah!

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  3. Joined you and your mother in tears by the end of the third paragraph.
    I hope your students get how much you care about them, whether they figure it out in your class or after they go.

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  4. Tug of war in this compound sentence is powerful: “I had so much more to learn, and I was ready to go.” Your slice made me realize a useful phrase, one that mimics what ‘yet’ can do in terms of reminding us of growth-mindset potential. Right after ‘enough’ in the last line, consider slotting ‘for now.’

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  5. Always conflicted, and yes, always different. Our students move to a regional middle school, so I may only see a handful of them in the years ahead (some will come to visit), although we now have a ” high school graduate walk through the school” morning, but I know some will be missing from there, and those are the ones I most want to see being successful (they may be, but somewhere else).
    Yesterday was our last day with kids, so your post hit home.
    Kevin

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    1. Oh! It’s hard to let my high school students go; I can only imagine how hard it is to let elementary kids go. And I’m with you on worrying about the ones who I don’t get to see again. I bet they’re fine, but oh how they tug at my heartstrings sometimes.

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  6. The line “We were both right, of course: I had so much more to learn, and I was ready to go” hit home to me. Even though I just recently graduated from college, I still feel like this applies. I know I have more to learn and grow from, but I also feel trapped behind parent walls. I was ready to go to college and now I’m ready to move out on my own. But it’s at that awkward phase now cause it’s just not quite time to leave. Gotta find a new supporting job first.

    It’s also unique to see a different view where the parent didn’t dominate the child. It’s okay to both be right. One side doesn’t always have to “win.”

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    1. It is an awkward phase. Funny, I wanted so badly to get away from my childhood home, but looking back much of my twenties was a little awkward. That “trapped in between” feeling takes a while to master. Also, this week I’m at my mother’s house with my own kids. I feel like it took a while for us to realize that we didn’t need a winner all the time. Now we get along famously – and she loved this post!

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  7. Your post resonated with me; my father and I fought the summer before I left for college, only it turned out it was his self-esteem at the heart of it, this overly-successful man without a college degree. Interesting that this memory popped up for you on the last day of classes!

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  8. This is spot on. You said what I feel. It’s like that with a piece of writing, too. You just run out of time, not the need to revise. I am happy to have more time now, so I can get back to daily writing and reading favorite blogs! Happy summer.

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