On Teacher Grief

On Teacher Grief | Millennials with Meaning
Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

My year as a 3rd grade teacher is officially over. And I am grieving.

I won’t be returning as a classroom teacher in the fall, but it’s not the job I’m grieving. It’s the kids.

All year long, my patience was tested. I was sworn at. I was insulted. My mom was insulted. (My students were in 3rd grade going on middle school. 😆) I never could figure out how to get everyone to be quiet, I was eternally exhausted, and I was counting down the days for months.

But I’m three weeks out of teaching, and I’ve cried myself to sleep some nights because I miss those kids so much.

Is that normal? Or do people just not really talk about it?

As soon as I accepted the job in September, I had one prayer: “God, help me to have your love for those kids.”

My prayer was absolutely answered. I couldn’t love them more, and I’d adopt any one of them in a heartbeat. But, man, it is gut-wrenching to say goodbye.

On the last day of school, I couldn’t even get a full sentence out before I started crying. Most of the room was weeping as I played a video of memories from the year and had to tell my students I wouldn’t be back next year.

It was awful. It was rewarding to see that maybe I actually did have an impact if my students cared that much, but it was awful!

How do teachers do this every year? How do you make room in your heart for 20 kids, form connections with them, and then just let them go, knowing some of them you’ll probably never see again? And then start over and do it all again, every year, for decades? Does every teacher struggle with this? Am I just this way because I am exceptionally sensitive?

Is this normal? That’s the question I keep wondering.

I guess I don’t care if it’s not. I did what I set out to do, which was to love my students. It’s hard to lose them, but I don’t regret loving them and I never will.

Love is always worth it. They are worth it.

I will keep crying, working my way through the grief of losing these infuriating, intelligent, hilarious, lovable kids, praying I sowed seeds that will take root and grow, and maybe that fractions will stick, too.

What a ride. Turns out this teaching thing is not for the faint of heart! Or maybe it’s just that these kids changed mine. 💗

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