I’m not good at goodbyes.
When I was a 12th grade English teacher, I wept like a baby at most graduations as I watched my kids and their families move on to their future lives. Each of them poised for future adventures, I relished in the part I played to prepare them, but relinquished control, took a deep breath, got in my last hug, and reminded them that they always had my email address.
Hours later, I’d receive their friend requests on Facebook, and many years later, I’d see them pop up in my new followers on Twitter or as a connection on LinkedIn.
As an educator, I have left four schools and soon I will be exiting my latest district. Every time I find myself in this position, moving into this part of my adventure, I wonder who among them will be the ones that I will continue to be in touch with and who will dissolve into the abyss of memory associated with that time in my life.
It’s sad, honestly. When you build good or great working relationships, you get used to seeing people every day. In fact, I looked forward to it. So knowing that when they return to work in September, life will go on, and I just won’t be a part of the story for them every day anymore makes me sad.
Being an educator is all about relationships, and when you put the time in to make them strong, saying goodbye is never easy.
And since that is the truth, and I’m truly committed to the work I have started in my current district, I will always be available to any teacher who needs me. It’s my Dumbledore moment, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask or is it to those who deserve it.”... or both.
It was the last day for teachers even though it was my first day back after my medical leave. I’m here for the rest of the week without the camaraderie or even the need to plan for next year. It’s weird feeling like a lame duck because I’m a planner and I like to help when I can, but I understand that my work was already handled since we weren’t sure if I’d even be able to return after my surgery.
Life throws some pretty crazy curveballs. I’ve dodged a few, been hit by a few, and hit a few out the park. This crazy learning experience has made me a better person, for sure, and I’m grateful for all of it, even the black and blues and injured ego along the way.
So here’s what I like to do when I know I’m moving on:
- I like to connect with as many of the colleagues I’ve had in a personal way, in person, if possible and let them know how much I appreciate the time we’ve spent together.
- I remind each person that I’m still a resource, and even though I won’t be down the hall or in the district moving forward, they all have my email and cell number and they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out if they need me.
- I take time to reflect on my growth and goals set earlier to assess what has been accomplished and what goals need to be set moving forward.
- I allow myself to feel whatever emotions come up: sadness, happiness, relief, guilt, etc.—I generally run the gamut.
- Let go of the things that didn’t happen or what the current universe will look like in my absence. Once I walk away, I no longer have a permanent stake, and therefore it out of my control. Although I always offer to do whatever I can to make transitions easier, just like with students, I can only offer. So I extend my hand and wait to see if anyone takes it.
- Try to focus on the positives. There is so much that happens that the history books will remember things differently from what I will in my nostalgia, and that is OK.
Whether you are just leaving school for the summer or to move on to other adventures, it’s important to make sure you reflect, reduce regret, and forge ahead.
What is one memory and/or experience from this past school year that you will take with you into your next adventure? Please share
*picture made using Pablo.com
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.