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Oh, the places they'll go...

I've taught grades 6-12, and it is the same for me each year about this time. For you new teachers, you may not "get it" yet, but I'm sure the experienced ones will be nodding their heads as they read.

I start the cleaning and organizing process as the school year winds to a close. I think about what I will need first next school year, what I can pass on to other teachers, and what I need to "find" over the summer break. And then it happens. I begin the "throw away" stage. I look at my materials and try to decide if it is out of date or simply no longer of use. Some things may be torn or aged, and just need to move on. Now, this is where things take a turn for me, because as I start throwing away "things," my mind wanders to the students that will also be leaving me. And yes, they are leaving ME! It is a personal thing. And I cry.

When you have your own children, you watch them grow and you do all you can to prepare them for their futures. You know, by the time they reach that high school graduation stage, that they will be okay. You also know you will still talk to them every day. It's a momma requirement! But your school kids (and yes, they are YOUR kids)... they go away. And many do not return, except on a trip back during Spring Break or on a trip in for copies of their transcripts. While it is a wonderfully happy occasion, you just know you will think about them and miss them. You will miss whatever contribution they made to your classroom climate. You will miss the stubbornness they taught you to understand. You will miss the smile or the nod that told you they "got it" when you taught that difficult lesson. And most importantly, you will miss them as a whole. Another group that is moving off into the next stage, where they will brighten someone else's world for a while.

Still, my protective nature makes me want to make one final attempt to take care of them: I want to write little notes to the ones they are going to, telling them how lucky they are to have the same opportunity I have had. Like those notes we attach to our kid's shirts in kindergarten, I want to label these "adults" as they move on, telling the rest of the world to love them just as much as I have.

And then I sit back, tears streaming down my face (you should see the sobbing mess at Graduation!), and think about the new ones that will come in next year. What will they be like? What will they bring to challenge me? And the big one: What will they teach ME?