My classroom is empty right now, when it should be bubbling. It is mid-afternoon, mid-week, mid-March and my classroom is empty. I didn’t even bother to turn on my lamps or my white string lights or even crack my window to allow for fresh air. My classroom is empty and I see the ghosts of students sitting in every seat, even occupying the couches and soft chairs that have been relegated to the storage pods in our back field for this past year. My classroom is empty and I am filling it with memories.
I have had well over a thousand adolescents pass through my classroom. Some have settled into a corner, emerging just a bit over the months spent in here, while others have transformed so drastically that they are barely recognizable to their September selves. I have borne witness to life changing epiphanies and waited patiently for presumed crises to settle into manageable problems. I have lost students to many things, not the least of which is the allure of shinier classes and activities that don’t require so much soul baring. I have celebrated life moments with a few students long after they have moved on from middle school and I have endured long, quizzical looks from young adults who know they know me from somewhere, but just can’t quite put their finger on it. I have gone to funerals.
I don’t know what the next few years will bring…what it will all look like after we have put covid and hybrid learning and zoom instruction behind us. I do know that there is a chance that I will be a part of a bigger reorganization in our district and I may find myself without a classroom. I want to embrace the potential of moving into something new for the second act of my performance, but I worry. I am, for the first time, feeling the inevitability of being forgotten.