All Good Things, Part 1

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s series run came to an end with a emphatic two parter.  It remains one of the greatest ways to close out a legendary television show and the show runners knew how to close out the show.  The title of the shows was, “All Good Things” and it was based of the line, “All good things must come to an end” which has roots in Chaucer’s poem “Troilus and Criseyde” from the late 1300s.  Fans knew TNG was coming to an end and it wasn’t a surprise that the show was winding down.  Similarly, I’ve been well aware of my impending departure and completion of my student teaching.  It (as it was for the fans back in the 90’s) has been progressively harder and harder for me to accept stepping out of the classroom and moving onto the next thing I need to do.  And that’s a good sign, believe it or not.  There have been various moments leading up to this moment – each time I had to say goodbye to my various field experiences was challenging.  I still miss my kids from my previous middle school experiences.

This time around was challenging in different ways. I had started work with these students in early January and had slowly but surely built connections to most of them.  I had worked daily with them.  Five days a week. 8 hours a day.  Spending nearly five months with anybody grants a certain kind of connection with people.  And with students – it’s something unique.  You (if they share it) will tell you about their life – the ups and the downs.  When writing narrative memoirs, they may trust you enough to dig deeper than the trip to Disneyland and articulate something that’ll humble you as a teacher.  You get a slice of the bigger puzzle of being a teacher – building a relationship with the students and in a larger sense – the classroom.  You understand some students will trust you right away but others will be wary of you.  You discover what happens when you make a mistake in speaking to a student or addressing their behaviour – the damage done takes considerable time to repair and rebuild.

I spent my last week of student teaching between being excited to graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver and being saddened at not seeing these kids as my students anymore.  I won’t be taking attendance with them anymore, saying hello in the hallway, or working in small groups with them anymore.  They will head off to high school and become freshman in the halls and start the countdown to their eventual graduation and future.  I won’t forget them.  I will take what they taught me and ready myself for my future classroom of 6th graders.  I will remember that the 90 or so students I worked with will never repeat again – every new class, every new group, and every new student will be their own personality and identity.  That they taught me how to be a better teacher, how to be a better person, and how to be a better human.  And that each new cycle will bring about the same lessons and realizations.

I spent my last day with a lump in my throat.  I didn’t tell them that because I don’t know what they would have done with that information.  Some would have been touched emotionally that I cared that much while others might have just waved my sudden expression of emotion away.  If I had spent more than my five-ish months with them, I might have felt more empowered to tell them how legit they are – and will be.  It will be up to them to make the strong choices in life that balance risk with courage and end with learning.  I hope their teachers encourage them, believe in them, hope for them, cheer for them, and believe for them in all they do. By the end of my time in student teaching, I know I did with my students.

It was a good thing.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  But now I must step into the next adventure.  I’m going to borrow words from the last episode of the original “Doctor Who” with Sylvester McCoy,

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning. And the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger. Somewhere there’s injustice. And somewhere else, the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace — we’ve got work to do!”

To the new teachers out there who have jobs and the ones who are still looking – we’ve been charged with the great responsibility of education and engagement – buckle up, brew up some coffee and let’s get to it – we’ve got work to do.

I will continue to share my journey as a teacher on this blog through both podcasts and written posts.  There’s one more post to write “All Good Things Part II”, in which I’ll talk about the ending of my time as a college student at Metro.

The adventure continues.  Join me, won’t you?

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