For my final week of work, I didn’t have much to do. I rolled up the carpets and pushed furniture to the sides of the room. Anything hanging in the classroom was taken down and stored in the cabinets. I swept the floors and threw out trash. Very quickly, there was nothing left to do. I grabbed a chair and sat gazing into an empty classroom.
This could be it…. am I done being in the classroom? That is a question still to be determined; one that I will be wrestling with most of this summer. But, till that time, I’m going to relive the memories from this past year, as well as all of my years of teaching.
For me, the past is relived through images; photographs to be exact. I took a lot of actual photographs throughout all my years of teaching. The student’s parents enjoyed the pictures I took because 1) I would post them up in the classroom for everyone to see and 2) I would give them photographs to take home. Anything the children did, I would take a picture. On the first day of school, you’re going to want to take pictures. Or, if the children are going to be making giant three foot bubbles, you should take pictures. If the children are going to try lemons, you gotta take pictures. Haha… that was a great day!
When you take a lot of pictures, you learn there are good times to take a picture and not-so-good times to take a picture. For example:
Good time: Smiling child.
Not-so-good time: Crying child.
Good time: Child posing with elephant.
Not-so-good time: Child running terrified from elephant.
Good time: Child making sand castle.
Not-so-good time: Child eating sand castle.
My classroom was filled with photographs. There were all kinds of pictures such as birthdays, family portraits, field trips, cooking activities, art projects, games outside, special visitors, show and tell, color clothing days, holidays, or just the daily happenings in the classroom. Now, sitting in an empty classroom, all of those images are gone. I’m surrounded by barren walls, as if I’m in a giant void. In fact, there are spaces on the wall where the pictures stood and the paint has faded, leaving ghostly rectangle outlines.
Because of program policy, I’m not allowed to share any photos of the children’s faces or identities outside of the classroom (unless they are with the children’s families). Given all of the identity theft today, I respect and uphold that rule (Any children’s names I share in stories are not the real names.) However, when all of those pictures have been deleted, I’m left with images of my classroom.
So, that’s what I did. On my last day, sitting in an empty classroom, I filled my time with photographs.