*Alert, alert: This post contains sentimental rambling and is outrageously long. If you dislike, please click away now. You have been warned.*
This is the last day of classes for the 2nd semester, 2015.
All my creative and productive juices have been spent.
All my candy has been handed out (except a few stale Twix and MyChews).
All my brain power is fizzling out.
I can’t muster the energy to search for even one more GIF, write even one more lesson plan, create even one more worksheet.
This is not the time to be riding rollercoasters of any kind, especially not emotional ones.
And yet, here I am, heart soaring to the top of joy and plunging down into the depths of sadness, because…
Today is also the last day I will ever teach at my main school.
I’m remembering my first day of teaching at this school just about 10 months ago, and how completely overwhelmed and out-of-place I was that day. How the 3rd graders towered over me like giants. How they cheered and clapped when I walked into their classrooms for the first time. How difficult it was to connect with them beyond just “Hello, I’m the new foreign teacher and you’re my new students.”
I’m remembering the first couple months and how some days felt like pulling teeth and yet some kids were always such day-brighteners, and I would get home sometimes and laugh and cry almost at the same time.
I’m remembering how I had no clue how to teach Korean students for a good long while. In fact, I’m not so sure I have a clue even now, but I do know that I’ve improved at least.
I’m remembering how deeply I ended up caring about my 3rd graders by the end of the 1st semester, and what great rapport we had (something I haven’t quite been able to replicate with 1st and 2nd). How even now, half a year later, I can recall the faces and personalities from each class. Even now, I miss them and wish I could teach them again.
And I’m remembering how I coasted through the first part of 2nd semester by teaching the amazing 1st graders, who were eager to learn, attentive, smart, sweet, and hilarious – a teacher’s nearly-impossible dream. And how I miss them too, and all the energy they gave me during class.
And now we come to today, when I’ve just finished saying goodbye to my 2nd grade classes. To be honest, we probably have the weakest relationship out of the three grades I taught this year because I only had them for 9ish weeks and 14- or 15-year-olds are tough nuts to crack, but nevertheless a few of my classes were full of groaning and fake crying when I announced my departure, and “Teacher, I will go to [my transfer school] next year!” “Teacher, I’ll miss you!” “Teacher, I won’t forget you!” “Teacher, don’t forget me!”
Oh, believe me kiddos, I won’t forget you.
The adorable chubby boy and sassy girl who always sit together, and she acts the perfect Abbott to his Costello, always (good-naturedly) yelling at him for his hilarious comments and trying to help him with his English attempts.
The boy with the sweetest manners and the extraordinarily strong, deep singing voice who sings in the 2nd graders’ band and told me he loves horror movies.
The girl who sits directly in front of my desk and always looked up at me expectantly with this sweet smile, like she couldn’t wait to see what amazing, inspiring, wise piece of knowledge is going to come out of my mouth (don’t think I lived up to that!).
The boy with the extremely black hair (Koreans actually have a range of natural hair colors, from dark brown to black, and his hair is the darkest black I’ve ever seen) and inquisitive face who was always making sheep’s eyes at me while I taught, and then looking away with a goofy grin if I made eye contact.
The cute girl with the tiny heart-shaped face, huge eyes, and freckles, who always wears her hair in a ballet bun, and who always made intelligent, engaged eye contact with me when I would speak.
The boy who somehow refused to obtain or bring an English textbook to class, ever, but would nevertheless sit there during CD/bookwork time with a random class textbook open in front of him. He also shouts “HELLO!” at the top of his lungs any time he sees me, no matter when or where.
The boy who, without fail, carried my laptop and materials back to my office from the classroom, every single time.
The boy who loves Andromeda (the galaxy) and found a way to bring it into every topic of discussion. “Giving instructions” lesson? “How to go to Andromeda.” “Have you ever?” lesson? “Have you been to Andromeda?” “I hope ____” lesson? “I hope you can go to Andromeda.”
I won’t forget.