The last day of school.
The official beginning of summer.
Pools will be open this year. There will be concerts and fireworks, family vacations. It seems as though we are speeding forward to regain something we have lost. After so many months where nothing felt normal, this summer beckons to us with the promise of normal life.
But let’s stop for a moment. It’s the last day of school. A moment worth thinking about.
Teachers have somehow held it together during the most challenging time in their careers. I don’t think we will ever truly understand how difficult it has been for them. They were asked to extend grace and patience to students and families, but often that same grace and patience was not extended to them. Their own health concerns were not respected. Work expectations were impossible to fulfill. Criticism came loud and clear on social media.
They say that the loudest voices aren’t the only voices but it can be hard to distinguish positive messages when the din of negativity threatens to drown them out.
Teachers know there have been positives. They know that students have learned and built relationships. They savor the moments when parents have shown support. And they won’t forget the times that colleagues or admin gave the kind of love and care that made it possible to go on.
As teachers pack up their classrooms for the year I hope they can savor those times most of all.
But their are challenges ahead. There’s no vaccine yet for children under twelve. The plans for responding to this are, as yet, incomplete. Teachers are keenly aware of what it’s like to be told to go forward when plans are inadequate. They are as anxious as we are to experience the joys of summer but these things still weigh on their minds.
One more thing. I was talking online with some Howard County folks and this comment* struck me.
One thing we learned is that slowing down is important and we can't let life continue to rush us through. The concern our family has is we think next school year’s transition back to the new normal for both teachers and kids may cause the same, if not more anxiety issues than the start of the pandemic. Change is hard for many, even when it's good.
That’s worth some thought. We don’t have to rush back to the way things were. We have an opportunity now to make things better.
In some ways today will be like every last day of school before it. Teachers will observe their end of year rituals. Families will, too. But, before we close the book on this school year, some thanks:
- To teachers and staff who gave it their all and then some
- To parents and family members who partnered with them to support their children
- To the students (whose education we all care so much about) who struggled, adapted, got tired, tried again, made connections, moved forward
*used with permission