“30 Days Left! We can do it!!” This on a school bulletin board in May. This week, calendars in classrooms and faculty rooms are marked off with thick Sharpies. ….. 19 (crossed off), 20 (crossed off), 21 (ready to be crossed off), 22 (circled in bright colors with sun strokes radiating outward and LAST DAY! written across the rest of the week).
Of course I am excited for the school year to wind down and summer to begin. Of course I look forward to long days with no schedule, reading on the beach or in the hammock, and trips with family. Of course I can’t wait to take long walks with my husband and dog, and take time to relax and refresh. But there is another part of me that grieves at this time of the year. I don’t like endings. I struggle with transitions. You would think I would have figured this out after 25 years of teaching, but I still find the end of the school year difficult. I don’t like the barren look of classrooms with empty bulletin boards and everything neat and packed away. I don’t like all the boxes lined up in the hallways for teachers who have to leave the building or move classrooms. I don’t like saying goodbye to staff members who are retiring or heading off on a new journey. The truth is that I miss my “school family.” I miss my meaningful work. I even miss my schedule.
I have to give myself a week or two to adjust to the summer way of being. At the start of the summer, my eyes still open early and I feel the need to get up and get the coffee going. At the start of the summer, I feel a bit lost with nothing on the calendar. At the start of the summer, I always make a huge list of things I want to accomplish.
Of course it doesn’t take long to adjust to the slower, more relaxed pace of summer. I get used to the later waking time, the time spent drinking coffee and reading in the mornings, the long, endless days spent doing whatever comes to mind, and the long To Do list that remains largely undone. Then as August winds down, and the new calendars start to go up in classrooms, and new bulletin boards welcoming students back to school begin to appear in the hallways, I grieve the end of summer.