The end of the school year always makes me sad. It is the nature of all schools that, as teachers, we fall in love with, and then lose, important people every year. We lose them to the next grade level, the next school, the family move, the school transfer etc. etc. There is nothing like the last few days of school to remind you that the lives of children move quick -much too quickly- and before you realize it they are gone.
One of my smallest students gave me a huuugggge hug the last day of school and it nearly made me tear up. I'm gonna miss that little guy for these next few weeks! What am I gonna do without all those minds to mold, open, and learn from? As excited as I am to rest and sleep-in (oh, and trust me I am thrilled to do just that!), I'm already planning for next year.
I'm always thinking: What can I do/What could I have done to make it BETTER? BIGGER? MORE AWESOME(er)?!
Sometimes I reflect this is a strange state in which to be. I fought becoming a teacher. I hated kids -I always told myself. As the oldest of four I spent a fair amount of time as a babysitter either to my siblings or someone else's. . .And, I hated and still hate babysitting. So, I fought becoming a teacher in college. Which is funny when you consider how child-like my approach to art is, how narrative my creations are, and how well my stylistic choices as an artist meld with children and teaching. But, there ya go. Sometimes we focus so hard on the problem (what AM I going to be when I grow up) that we can't find the solution (I am REALLY good at this teaching thing!).
As I backed into teaching it became the gig I was just gonna do before I made it big doing the THING that was going to MAKE me. The ART thing I was going to be when I grew up. Whatever that was, I didn't know, but I felt sure I would recognize it when it thumped me upside the head. It did thump, and pretty hard, but as is my nature, I ignored it. And now, after my fifth year of teaching has finished (which, I would like to point out is two years past the typical first-time teacher burn-out phase wherein nearly 50% of all teachers quit) I'm on fire to teach more. I love it. I can't get enough of it. Well, I should clarify that. I LOVE teaching ART. I'm not sure how I would feel about teaching anything else. But, art, oh man, teaching art rocks my world. Or, as a friend in art school would say: "It rocks my pants off!"
And of course, I come to this conclusion in the middle of unprecedented teacher layoffs in my state. Especially for the fine arts courses.
I survived the layoffs this year (this is my second year as a layoff survivor) and it was so, so , so hard to watch superb teachers lose their jobs due to nothing more than economy. I hope I continue to survive. I know the arts in my classroom will survive and thrive. Art knows how to flourish in the midst of chaos; it is one of the many things that Art does quite well.