It’s that time of year again: the time when sadness starts to creep over me as I brace myself for saying good-bye to my current seniors who are graduating next week. This year is especially poignant, because I have had so many of these students for two years in a row.
The seniors are excited to embark on the next stage of their lives—and they should be. I am excited for them, too. However, I’ve grown attached to them. I’ve TRIED to get attached to them, after all. The more I care about them, the more they tend to care about this class and about their success in it. So I have tried to get to know them—as much as possible, which is challenging since class sizes are so big these days.
Still, I’ve tried, and I have succeeded: I feel attached to them, and I hope they feel that I feel attached.
It’s one of the paradoxes of teaching…we try to make kids feel special, which generally means that they really are special to us (unless you’re really good at pretending, and I’m not), but then they leave and teachers need to detach themselves. It’s not easy to do, and at some point in the next week, I will probably sink into a mini depression-of-sorts. The sadness doesn’t last long, though, because a new crop of students will be sitting in my classroom within months and the cycle will start over again. Plus, new relationships between me and the students will sprout, once they are no longer students.
You’d think I would get used to this. I don’t, though. And maybe I don’t ever want to get used to it. Maybe if I don’t allow myself the vulnerability of getting attached to students, the students themselves will somehow feel it. Maybe when I no longer care that students are leaving my life is when I need to retire.
That’s what I’m telling myself this year, anyway, as I fight the feelings of sadness that start creeping into me. I also tell myself how “lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” (A.A. Milne).