Looking for Closure: Covid-19 Teaching Diary Day 56

Farewell Say Goodbye Bye - Free photo on Pixabay
Miraculously, the end of the year has arrived. In six school days I will have reached the end of my 11th year of teaching in the NYC Department of Education. Every school year ending feels bittersweet. Did I do enough? Have I prepared my students for what comes next? What will the lasting impact be of all the energy I poured in? These questions and desire for closure feel especially fraught this year.

For many of my students, the school year effectively ended in March. This includes all of the students who never connected to Google Classroom, but many who logged in regularly, but didn't really have the support to access the materials. I can say I did the best that I could, but as always, this will only provide partial peace of mind.

These final days represent my last chance to make an impact. As hard, exhausting, and saddening these months have felt, I feel good about my plan for these last days of school.

We are in the middle of discussing the 13 Principles of the Movement for Black Lives. These conversations haven't been as active as I hoped, but I know the kids are listening and taking the ideas in. Finishing these 13 Principles feels like planting a small seed.

I also assigned a final project that I feel like generally lives up to my ideals as a teacher. The students are creating a miniature version of the New York City budget. They have to choose how to spend $1,000. This project will allow us to talk about the #DefundNYPD movement happening in our city. I'm excited to see what the kids come up with, and experienced enough at this point to be ready for a range of unexpected outcomes.

Finally, I plan to use this time to check in with students and say goodbye. I have an end of year survey I've used for five or six years. I look forward to seeing what experiences stuck with the kids, and what feedback they might offer me. In addition to the survey, I hope to have 1 on 1 conversations with as many of my 33 third graders as possible. If I'm able to have these conversations, to say thank you and goodbye, I think I'll be able to close the school year with some closure.

No school year offers full closure. This year I have to prepare for the fact that I may not get to say goodbye to some students. Still, I feel confident that I'm ending the year in alignment with my principles. As always I'm I'm trying to teach to the last days. I'm having conversations about racial justice that feel grounded in the kids' experiences. And above all else, I'm doing my best to show the kids how much they matter to me.


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