June 10, 2016
As I am stacking chairs and reorganizing files in my classroom the day after graduation, I'm breathing a little sigh of relief. We made it. I made it.
Year 25 at Buchanan officially comes to a close today, and it's been a challenging year, to say the least. I have been out of the classroom far more than any other year, due to the three surgeries I had as a result of my breast cancer diagnosis in October. Long absences can make it difficult to connect with kids, and I worried about that. I also worried about the impact those absences had on my keeping up with students' course work and grades. Timeliness suffered, to be sure. Instruction suffered as well, as I know what I want my students to learn and be able to do far better than someone else in my classroom, though I definitely had strong substitutes. We like to believe we are not expendable, replaceable. But this year, whether or not I was replaceable was out of my hands. Of course I was replaceable. Classroom life went on in my absence, and it was fine.
It was fine, and it was not. I felt guilty about my divided attention, and felt like I was swimming upstream for a week or two after returning from each surgery--swimming through lesson plans and make-up work and student questions just to reach the surface. I was not the teacher I wanted to be this year for my kids. In the end, however, I have to forgive myself for that, and hope that my kids do too. Life is about priorities, and this year, attending to my health had to come to the forefront.
This is not to say that I didn't care about my kids; I genuinely do care about them. I got the opportunity to meet some really incredible people this year in my classes, and I am looking forward to staying in touch with them as they move out into the world beyond our school. But there were new lessons that that I didn't foresee at the beginning of the year, hopefully for my students as well as myself. In addition to the curriculum, life threw lessons at us like, "Sometimes life takes unexpected twists; you've gotta roll with it," "Keeping a sense of humor and an attitude of positivity helps to keep us moving forward," and "We've gotta take turns being the priority. It'll all work out for the best in the end if we are patient and cooperative." I tried to keep these lessons in mind as I progressed through the year, and I think, for the most part, my students did too.
So goodbye to the class of 2016. You're a great group of kids, and I will miss you dearly. I'm sorry I could not give more this year, but I am happy we made it through together. I thank you for your kindness, your concern, and your patience. Best wishes always!