Revisiting the Empty Nest

Ah, June.

The smell of flowers, the sound of birds in the trees.  The warmth, the sunshine, the late sunsets and barbecues and flip-flops.

I love June in the classroom, because the damn tests are over and we can learn the way we love to learn. We read and debate and look things up on the internet. We play math games, and write poetry and stories just for fun.  We write and perform a play.

I love June in the classroom because we all feel the approaching end of our time together, and we are more tender with each other.  The morning hugs are a little bit tighter, the afternoon good byes tend to linger.  Everyone has a “sharing” at morning meeting, and everyone wants to tell me just one more little story.  I love June because we finally all realize how lucky we are to have had our little community to sustain us all year.

But I hate June in the classroom, because we are all simply out of academic energy.  We don’t really want to keep reviewing our math facts.  We’re tired of the Civil War.  We just want to play outside, and we wish we could play like we do at home; without all those rules about safety and friendship and how to be inclusive.

And I hate June in the classroom because we are all acutely aware of the approaching end of our time together, and we are more prickly with each other. Some of us are tired of tolerating each other’s quirks.  Some of us now look at each other almost as siblings, and we squabble as if we were related.

And some of us are playing, “You can’t fire me, I quit.” Those are the kids who begin to act out in June, pushing the rest of us away, trying to make the impeding separation easier.

I’ve seen these reactions before!  Pull me closer while pushing me away.

I see it every June in my classroom.

I saw it three times in my home, as each of my children prepared to move away to college.

Every June I find myself once again eager to get to the end, but dreading the fact that “my” kids will be leaving me. Every June I revisit the experience of the Empty Nest.

June in a fifth grade classroom.

“You can’t fire me; I quit.”


2 responses to this post.

  1. Saw a lot of fifth graders leave their classes in tears on Friday. They sure hate to leave. Saw some teachers wiping their eyes too. The sign of a really good year I guess. 🙂 Hope you enjoy your summer.


    • Its amazing how intense that teacher-child relationship really is! I dream of my kids, I plan for them every day, I think about them when they aren’t with me…..then on the last day of school, “poof!”: I lose any right to love and care for them.
      It is surprisingly difficult!!


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