08 October 2011

the end of an era

The last day of school came so quickly. We had a party to "celebrate." I say "celebrate," because even though I am so proud of what my students have done this year and the people they are becoming, I have very mixed feelings about this particular last day of school.

Of course, it's always nice to take time to have a little party, complete with Papa John's and some homemade Mad-Hatter-esque cake. And who doesn't enjoy summer vacation?!

But, this particular last day of school marked the end of my time in Costa Rica, as well as the end of my time as a teacher (at least for now).

So, seeing the walls and shelves empty and the chairs put up for the last time the next day was quite sad for me, as well.

I left a little surprise for the teacher who has this room next year...I just hope a mouse doesn't find it first! I remember arriving at school on the first day, and seeing one of my students arriving with his mother, who also works at the school. He was pulling a rolling backpack behind him, and running down the hill to get to class. He looked so cute and eager that I knew it was going to be a great year...and it really was. I hope that the next teacher will have as wonderful a year as I had in this room.

After getting everything cleaned up and put away, I took one last walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the views I love so much.

When I returned to school, I found a message from one of my parents waiting for me. She said that she would be coming to school in a few hours, so I waited for her in my classroom. When she arrived, my student was with her as well. He looked so adorable in his Lego t-shirt! And they had a gift for me...a beautiful book called Wild Costa Rica, filled with lovely photos of the gorgeous scenery and flora and fauna of this country. We all teared up a bit as I opened the gift and we thanked each other.

Driving away from school for the last time (at least for now), I turned at the top of the hill and took a photo of my favorite view of all:

This photo is not great, but believe me, on a sunny day...this view is just breathtaking! I guess that just means I'll have to go back soon to take a better one :).

Later that day, my mom and I went to dinner at Madero's with C.S., a friend from school. Then, we went to the high school graduation and down to Chi Chi's for one last celebration with everyone from school.

It's hard for me to explain what this year has meant to me. I guess part of what made this sixth year of teaching so special was that I finally got to be the teacher I always wanted to be. When I started teaching, I had so many grand ideas of what I wanted to do with my students. I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in my students' lives. Then, I got into the classroom, and it was so.very.hard. By far the absolute hardest thing I have ever done in my life. By the end of the year, what my students ended up being able to do that year far surpassed any expectations I had had before I entered the classroom. They rocked it out and proved that they could perform as well as students living in much more affluent areas. But, at the same time, I wasn't that sweet, patient teacher I had always pictured myself being. Instead, I just spent my time being so frustrated--so frustrated by how unprepared they were, so frustrated by the circumstances that they were living in, and so frustrated by my lack of skill in teaching. Little by little, as I grew my "sea legs," and figured out how to be a better teacher, I took more time to find the joy in teaching my students. Finally, in this last year, I really hit my stride with that. And of course I wasn't perfect--not even close!--but I know I was much calmer with my students and took the chance to do projects and other learning experiences with them that I never did before, and it was a great year. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to find the best version of themselves, and I'm so grateful for my chance to do that here.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to tell you that I'd comment more, except I have a hard time remembering any of my log-ins for this!

    I especially enjoyed this since I was there around that time!