I found myself in a mix of emotions this morning. As I looked upon our 8th graders I thought "when did 14 turn into 30?" Overly done faces, 4 inch heels that made my ankles tremble, fishnets, etc. But that was not the majority. The majority looked adorable in their dress shirts and ties & their dresses and appropriate smaller heels. They were excited about being on display.
The "reality" is that these kids, these young adults, are our future. And that scares me! 355 8th graders sat in that gym with their smiling faces and their proud parental figures just snapping aways with their cameras. 355 totally different personalities. 355 different fates. I found myself proud and indifferent at the same time. Over 50 had maintained honor roll status this year, 4 had straight A's. The academically successful athletes were acknowledged, but half of them (mostly the boys) were kids that stay in trouble. The coaches were perfect in their choices of top honored athletes. If you could see the shock on some of the boys faces as less popular persons received the top honors from the coaches.
As the band played and several of "my" kids stood to do solos, I found myself tearing up a bit. "These are my good kids," is what I was thinking. "These are the ones that work hard, don't talk back, are sometimes so quiet that I forget they're in the room. Yeah, these are my good kids!" Then they started calling the names of each and every 8th grader and I found myself looking at some of them thinking, "Dear God, help them!"
So the "really reality" is that in spite of, I do care about each and every one of these kids. I will be so sad to see some of them go. Others I will gladly hold the door open and wave goodbye to for the last time. The ones that I know are ready I don't worry about to much. It's the ones that are ready but have all those "other" things impacting their worlds that I worry about. The ones that have been through incredible losses this year. The ones that think they don't have to be concerned with their academics because "athletics" is going to provide for them. The ones that I keep snacks around for. These are the ones that stay in my mind.
I've never taught 8th grade before. Before I always had the chance to see "my kids" roam the halls for at least another year as they matured and prepared for high school. There's such a finality to the close of this school year. I don't even know if I will be in this district come August. How will I know how "my kids" are? I NEED to know if my tough love did it's job! Even the ones that got on my last nerve every day, I want to know if they are doing alright. How do I deal with this mixed bag of emotions? How can you be so proud, so sad, and so worried all at once? This wasn't in the middle school teachers manual. Oh wait, there was no manual! This totally BITES (as the kids would say)! And to that I say, "really reality?" Really?