Student No Longer

Today was my final day of student teaching–my transition day from an intern teacher to a licensed professional. I feel very “floaty”…   Reality hasn’t sunk in yet.  But it’s there, somewhere in the back of my consciousness: I’m done. Walking out of the doors of the school where I learned how to really step up and teach felt so strange. It’s amazing to me how a place that seems so large and generic upon first visit turns into a home. I keep thinking of my (now empty) classroom, where so many frustrations, questions, and breakthroughs occurred.

In the spirit of celebration, here are my favorite final moments with each of my classes.

Ninth Graders

For my final unit with my freshman, I had them create a literary magazine. They worked through a series of five writing projects (character sketch, poetry, comic, flash fiction, and editorial), and then did extensive revisions based on my comments, their own ideas, and the feedback of their peers. They then selected one or more of their projects to publish in a class literary magazine, which I put together with their artwork, biographies, and introduction. On the last day of class, each contributor got a bound copy. We then squeezed our 32 desks into a circle and each writer who wanted to could read from their piece. They wanted to stand in the middle of the circle, so I said, “why not?” It was so charming to see these precocious, vibrant, sassy kids get their moment with all eyes on them, reading their own writing with flashing eyes and lilting voices.  They were so proud, and it did my heart good to see these kids stand in the spotlight, seeing their original words on the page, important and real.

Twelfth Graders

My senior class, which really became a family this last nine-week session, has been an absolute joy to teach, so I was very sad to see them go a week earlier than my other students for graduation. Their final exam was on a Friday, and I spent the weekend glumly denying the fact that I would miss them terribly. But on Monday, they came back! Nearly my entire class came back–bearing food and cake and gifts as a surprise party for me. It was so much fun to let down serious teacher mode for that final, extra day and just enjoy the company of my students for one more 90-minute class. I was proud to announce that every last student passed English 12, and many of them with flying colors! I was so honored and touched by the awesome party that they threw for me. As we sat, celebrated, and shared our plans for the future, I could do nothing but smile. I’ll end this post with the letter that they wrote for me–no doubt I will never forget my very first group of seniors!

Dear Miss “H”,

From the gracious and humble bottoms of each and every one of your senior students’ hearts, we all thank you for being a well-crafted teacher who understood us as youthful and changing teenagers that needed a little bit of guidance and direction, because, let’s be honest, we are all approaching adulthood at a steady pace and we are very much scared out of our minds at how the future is going to be. We have all had a good time in this class. Even when we all doubted that we were going to like Hamlet, you showed us otherwise. After reading Hamlet, I kind of have a little more willingness to live, to be, to not die, to not sleep, to not dream perchance, but to be awakened and take action. And I will do just that, but after summer vacation of course! We congratulate you on your award for teaching and once again we thank you for being the best student teacher ever!

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