Now that report cards and administrative protocols have been dealt with, this is the time of year where teachers often find themselves grappling with a mix of emotions. Personally, I am feeling; 1) exhausted – no explanation needed; 2) happy – to have had an amazing year of growth and learning in a new school; and 3) grateful – that our school is staying open and will be reincarnated as an alternative school next year, with an environmentally-focused program. The way I would describe myself right now would be all these emotions wrapped into one big bumbling ball of trying-to-be-a-teacher. I am still trying to make sure that everyone in my charge is safe, happy, and having valuable learning opportunities throughout their days – it’s just that I am a bit distracted as I look in cupboards or on my desk… There are still lots of things to do in my classroom before I can surrender my keys to the custodian because, as we know, it is never just say goodbye to students and colleagues, close the door and drive off into the holidays. At least this year I am not moving schools, just classrooms. I never needed help organizing my primary or junior classrooms at the end of the year, but in kindergarten, I am ever grateful for my ECE teaching partner. Nevertheless, the task of closing up seems mammoth. So where do I start?
On my desk a series of small containers and baskets accumulated throughout the year and slowly filled with loose parts – like lonely puzzle pieces, beads, buttons and dice. Yesterday, I took it all and emptied everything into a huge wooden salad bowl. Then, I placed the big bowl on a centre table with smaller empty bowls around it. Who would have guessed that it would be the most visited centre for 2 days? Without telling them what I wanted them to do, students started sorting by colour, then by theme, and pretty soon, all the items had been moved around, played with, and finally sorted out again so that everything could be put back in its proper place. One job done!
Next on my list is organizing all the books and resources I collected throughout the year – piles are scattered over and under my desk and along shelves in no particular order. Luckily, I was able to take several rigid file boxes from the librarian who was clearing out her space. In a strange kind of way, I am looking forward to organizing the books. Sorting a growing collection of resources gives me a sense of satisfaction that maybe only teachers who strive to be organized, but never fully attain that state, can understand.
Finally, apart from closing up my classroom for the year, I have an end-of-the-year gift for my teaching partner who made my year so much fun and fulfilling. We are lucky to share a philosophy about how young children learn and we make eachother laugh. I also really want to make sure I show my appreciation to the office administrator who always has my back. I can honestly say, that in all my years of teaching, so much of a school’s success has to do with an office administrator who manages so many of the fine details of the day-to-day life in a school. At my current school, she is the hub, essential and all-knowing, with a great sense of humour. It is a pleasure to recognize and thank her for all her efforts to help me with all the administrative stuff I tend to sometimes forget.
I am not quite there yet, but all will come together as it always does. Then, when I finally do say goodbye to everyone and hand over my keys, I will acknowledge all the work I have done throughout the year in one deep sigh and step into the holidays to relax and recharge. And then run back into the school to collect my worm composting bin (message to myself). Here’s to the holidays!