imagesWell, it is “officially” summer vacation.  However, I do not feel like it is.  I think that is because I have to go back tomorrow for a professional development day.  Then this weekend I leave for Georgia for a big educational conference.  However, after that, I have about a week off.  Then it will feel like summer vacation!

I always find the last day with students to be bittersweet.  I think the students feel the same way.  They were different today.  Yesterday, the cleaned out their desks and took everything home, helped me take down stuff in the room, and we cleaned the room.  They take home anchor charts we have made, flashcards they have made, etc.  Enter today, where they come into a room that does not look the same.  It looks empty.

Don’t get me wrong.  Both, the students and myself are excited about vacation, yet we are sad as it is the last day of our school year together.  Many made cards, brought in special snacks to share, exchanged phone numbers so they can have get togethers with their friends, etc.  We also have a special program where we all go into the auditorium and we say goodbye to the teachers that are retiring or leaving the school.

As for our day, after the special program we came back to the room.  The kids said, “Wow, it looks so different.”  I agreed.  The first thing I did was give them their report cards!  This is something I always fear that I am going to forget.  They put them in their backpacks.  Then, everyone had snack.  We had quite a snack since many brought in treats.  While eating, we talked about any plans for the summer.  Some are going camping, swimming, a few are going to some camps, etc.  We also shared what we liked about this year.  That is always fun. You always wonder what they liked the best.

After cleaning up from our snack “party”, it was time for some fun.  I handed out the beach balls and everyone blew up their own beach ball.  We then all sat in a circle.  Everyone was given a Sharpie marker. After writing our own names near the top, we just passed them to the right.  We went all around the circle.  Everyone wrote a message or signed their name. This was the first time that I have done this (thank you Pinterest).  I have to say it was a great activity.  Some were really thinking about what they were going to write. Some wrote the same thing on everyone’s beach ball and some made them more personal.  I really liked the activity.  Once we went around the complete circle, everyone took a few minutes to read their beach ball.  It was nice to see them reading and commenting.  I definitely think I will be doing this activity next year.

Before you knew it, it was time to leave.  Everyone gathered up their stuff and lined up.  This was when I handed them their treat bags.  They were bags full of Swedish Fish with a tag that said “You are O”fish”ally a fourth grader!”.  They were very happy and could not believe that the school year was over.  We all hugged and wished each other a wonderful summer.

What is unique about our school is that on the last day we blast music out of our speaker system.  Every grade level walks their class down and the other teachers clap, have noisemakers, etc.  The kids LOVE IT!  After they are on the busses all of the staff go outside.  Now, it gets really noisy.  The bus drivers honk their horns and the kids shout and wave to us while leaving.  It can get quite loud, however it is wonderful.  You see the kids leaving with a big smile on their face.

After that, it is very quiet.  We go back to our rooms, put anything on our desks away (think open a drawer and do the clean sweep).  Then we pack up any last minute things and we head out.  I have to admit, I took one look around and it did look different.  No anchor charts, no student work, nothing but blank walls.  The desk are empty, things are stacked up on the counters so that the maintenance staff can clean, etc.   Yes, we had an end of the year staff luncheon/retirement party at a local restaurant.  That was fun, we had some laughter.  But when it is over, you get in your car and it is over.

I came home, unpacked and just thought about the year together.  We had lots of laughter, lots of learning, and lots of growing.  Both, students and their teacher learn many things throughout the school year.  However,   I realized that it really is over.  I teach because I love the kids. Like I have said before, when I am in the classroom with the kids we have a great time.  Tomorrow, I will go back to just staff.  It is going to be awkward.  It will be quiet.  Honestly, I am not sure we will get much out of it.  I think everyone needs some time to “debrief” before starting to think about next year.  However, I will do my best.

Yes, I am looking forward to some time to rest and relax. Believe me, I think everyone needs it.  Friday will be no alarm clock Friday!  Trust me on that one!! I can’t wait for that.  Then I go to a big conference.  When I return, I look forward to just spending some time home, or going on a hike, swimming in a lake, and just relaxing.  I need to relax, reflect, and refuel.  Then, prepare for my mission trip.  That is what I am looking forward to.  I am excited.

So, tomorrow I have to realize when I walk into the school,there will be no kids.  It will be different.  I will make it though.  We always do.  Then, I will not be back for a bit.  I will have time to just “chill”.  A much needed time.

Do you have any plans for your summer? Let me know!