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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Beginning of the End

Five more weeks. I thought I'd never see the day...

It feels like June will never come, yet I know it lies in wait around the corner. It will pounce upon me, demanding not only finals and term papers, but this year also parent conferences, transitional planning meetings, progress reports, clean-ups, and goodbyes. And spring fever, of course. It will taunt me with unachieved goals, now lost forever in if only. It will clutch at my heart with fear of the future. I can already hear its tiptoeing steps, its bated breath...

So if any productive reflecting is to happen, it ought to be now.

If I had to pick one word to describe this year, it would have to be Full. Full of action. Full of frustration. Full of work. Full of people. Full of triumph. Full of heartbreak. Full of learning. Full of growing.

During this year I completed my transformation from student to teacher, though I realize now that I always have been and will be both.
I played a part in turning closed, defeated children into trusting, interactive personalities.
Although my students never ceased to frustrate me, I never ceased to love them... and I learned to like them, too. I feel like a quasi-mom.
I bit my tongue a thousand times and found strength in my silence.
I lost my patience once. Do I regret it? Maybe. But it showed two things: 1. I can slip up and things can still be OK afterward. 2. ONCE. (Now, BasMelech, don't count your chickens -- there are five more infuriating weeks left!) I guess I do have some patience, after all.
I gave more than I ever thought I had -- and found hidden reserves within me.
I learned a lot about who I am. And that's not as bad as I'd thought it would be.

The end is near.

As I handed in my resignation, I heard in my heart the clang of a heavy door slamming behind me. Why do I feel this sense of loss? I'm only gaining -- new opportunities, new life, about ten more hours each day... But you know me; I hate letting go... Or maybe it's fear of the unknown: What will next year's teachers do to these kids I've come to love so fiercely?

It's the end of a chapter, but the beginning of a new one. I'm definitely ready to close that exhausting chapter, but it wasn't all bad: As a result, the new one will be deeper, richer... and much better appreciated.

I hear the bolt slip into place with an ominous clunk. Accepting the finality, I look around and realize: I have not been locked into a forbidding prison, but thrust out into a wide world with many open doors.