You probably can spot one a mile away...the glazed over eyes (lack of sleep), the slumped shoulders (trying to carry too many burdens at once), the worn fingers (paperwork, paperwork, paperwork), the tears on her face (saying good-bye to yet another group of kids)...
It is really hard to explain to anyone what this time of year is like for a teacher. Exhaustion, through and through. I can think of no other words. I can try but honestly if you are not in it personally, you truly cannot know. Even my sweet husband of 12 1/2 years just doesn't fully "get it".
I am not one to keep up with the countdown. Lots of times the end of schools surprises me more than the kids. I love what I do. However, when I get in that final stretch, I can see the finish line. I also see the hurdles ahead.
The end of school brings changed routine. We have more special days now than ever. Fun days of fun activities, but the change brings fatigue (at least for me). I am quickly gathering all of my students' saved work for little "portfolios" to send home to parents. I have been working on a slideshow of a couple hundred (plus) pictures that I have taken throughout the year to burn to CD's for the kiddos. I am writing some "memory notes" for kids who are moving on next year. I am writing out report cards and report card notes to let parents know where there child is and what they can do this summer to help next year be another good year of learning. I am gathering paperwork to pass on to first grade teachers. I am packing up the room, shelf by shelf, removing everything from the walls, everything from the ceiling. On top of all that, life does not stop at home. My own kids need me to handle their paperwork. They are bringing home stacks of things from their own classrooms that now need new homes. Baseball for one kiddo (both practices and games) are in full swing, as is the mood of the toddler on the go.
I am not saying all this for sympathy. It is a job I have chosen to do. And many of the things I am doing are things I have CHOSEN to do as gifts to my kids and their parents.
Just know if you see me out on the streets and I don't look quite as dapper or the circles are ever widening under my eyes, there is a reason. If you say something kind (or unkind for that matter :), tears may spring to my eyes quickly.
I am tired. Exhausted. Fatigue.
Yesterday, a group of high school kids who play sports at our nearby high school came to our school to read and talk with the students. They found their way to the lounge at one point where we had food (another task that happens this time of year...LOTS of potlucks). Two different students said, "Mrs. Cloud, do you remember me?" I just want to say that boys in high school look NOTHING like boys in kindergarten. I think they change alot. Throw in fatigue and the pressure of producing names, I panicked. I had to admit defeat. However, they said their names and then it was like my eyes were opened. I knew exactly who they were. I could tell you exactly what they were like in kindergarten. Now, they are in high school. They were models of education and literacy for our kids. And in one small way, I was part of it. And they remembered me.
That is why I do it...