I Am Not Good at Goodbyes

#sol22- May 31, 2022

I know I am not good at goodbyes, and it is not for lack of practice. I moved a fair bit growing up and even more so as an adult. As a teacher I have LOADS of practice (finishing up my 30th year of teaching)… but I never get better at it.

Two years ago on campus school ended on March 13, and the end of the school year was just so roller coastery. Last year we bounced back and forth between online, hybrid, in person. Then on February 23 we went online again and ended that way also. The car parade going by the school on the last day was nice, but between that and a final Zoom it just felt so anticlimactic.

This year I am in fifth grade and have five of those students in my first ever online class again. We started the year online (again), finally got on campus on October 21, and have been in person ever since (granted kids have been out for isolation periods and the last long-term online did not return until the end of April). It almost feels like we have had a “full” school year together if I don’t think too hard.

Tomorrow, it all gets too real. Tomorrow the grade 5 will have their Moving Up Ceremony. They have been key in planning it- what would happen in the actual ceremony, what we would eat throughout the day, and what else would go on. Speeches have been written (three, because a committee from each class wrote a speech that two students from their homeroom would deliver) and the choir will entertain us. The principal and director will also speak (hopefully taking their cues from the students and keeping it brief. Menus have been planned, a movie has been voted on, a pool party arranged, an ice cream social will end the day. There is only one part I am worried about- the part where I have to say each name and pass them their certificate. I am going to try to maintain my composure and not sniffle through it (let’s be honest, it’ll be hard, but we have another day and a half afterward where I can let the tears flow). In reviewing the plans again with the students this afternoon I did advise the easy-to-cry people like myself to carry a few tissues.

I am telling myself this is not goodbye- we have 1 1/2 more days after the event, but inside I know- it is a slow slide (or quick in this case) to goodbye and I am not good at goodbyes. I will fill the 1 1/2days after tomorrow with ways to ease the slide and give us time to reflect and look forward together, but the reality is that after Friday we will never all be together again in the same way. It is good, it is right, it is time for a break- and I guess the fact that goodbyes are hard for me means I care. This is a special class and I think this goodbye may be especially hard.

4 thoughts on “I Am Not Good at Goodbyes

  1. Congratulations on 30 years and persevering through the last three. I can tell you are a great teacher because you do care. Stay courageous, and I know there will be joy and tears closing out the school year. End it on a positive like your piece’s conclusion.

  2. Good-byes are really challenging when you want to hold onto something (or in this case, a lot of someones) who are really special. I hope the moving up ceremony is lovely. Take lots of photos!

  3. I love that students had a voice and a role in planning their ceremony! That is a fabulous idea, and one that will make many memories for them. The hardest goodbyes for me came after years of looping. I once kept a group for 3 years of middle school (6,7,8). Another group I had two years, but with two years in between (2nd and 5th). When I moved from middle to high school, I had some of those middle school students I’d taught all over again, so those were some tough, tough graduations. The great thing is that they do come back. They bring their spouses and children….I know that your babies will keep in touch!

  4. It’s so nice that you are going to miss them. These broken-up years have been interesting emotionally for me…with some kids I’ve connected more than usual and with others a lot less.

    I hope your ceremony goes off without a hitch! Sounds like a great day.

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