The Hardest Part of Teaching is Saying ‘Goodbye’

“Congratulations and I truly hope the absolute best for all of you in the future. Ok, final sign off. Bye!”

I have just recorded the final video of my first semester of remote teaching.

I’ve just finished telling my first group of students that I am so incredibly proud of them, that I hope they have so much success in their lives, to turn in any late work, and to stay in touch.

I am sitting in my soft, caramel brown leather chair, still holding my smile. I’m still staring at the camera and the blinding lights. My smile, though, starts to quiver and my eyes begin to well up with tears.

I stand up to stop the camera and mic recordings, but not before my tears start spilling out from the barricades of my eyelids and down my cheeks. I can’t believe that I’m crying over the end of my class. 

While I feel relieved at the thought of having a break from working two different jobs simultaneously, there is part of me that will miss this group of people that I have been in constant contact with for the past 4 months. With this group, we have navigated the first semester of remote teaching and learning. We’ve been a symbol of sameness throughout the turbulent year of 2020. Through the pandemic, the election, and every other crazy event that 2020 has had in store for us, our Thursday class was a weekly anchor for these past few months. 

I never met any of my students face-to-face. I’ve only Zoom’d or emailed with them. Yet, somehow I feel like I know them. I care about them. I want nothing but the best for each individual person and soul that was in my virtual classroom. 

As I was sitting there crying after the end of my first semester of teaching, I wondered how are full-time, in-person teachers able to say ‘goodbye’ each semester, trimester, or year? How do they not cry in each final class with that group? Or, do they cry behind closed doors, after each student has left the room? 

I suppose after years of teaching saying ‘goodbye’ to students might become easier; that you become a ‘goodbye’ professional.

Having moved about 23 times in my life, I like to think that I am a pro at saying ‘goodbye’ to people, places, and things. I believed that I was impervious to the goodbye tears, but not this time. 

This time, the tears just spilled out of me. 

My mom would cry sometimes when I was younger and I would ask her why she was crying. It didn’t make sense to a young child. “You’ll find out when you’re older,” is what she would tell me. I never thought that I actually would. I just thought that was something grown-ups tell you to shut you up. 

In this moment, though, I understood what she meant. 

A Final Message for my Students

If any of my students have somehow come across this, I truly meant every word I said to each and every one of you.

It’s so incredible how you can never meet someone in person, but you feel a type of bond with them. By reading your work every week, I was allowed the great honor of being able to read some of your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives about the world. I truly appreciate this opportunity and I truly appreciate each of you.

From the bottom of my heart thank you.

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