The sugar rush fades. The roar dies down. The crafts and papers are gathered. The last few lingering students cross the doorway. On their way out, they smile. Many tell me to enjoy the break, and there are more than enough shouts of "Merry Christmas" to last me well into next week.
Then they're gone. And suddenly, after the most energetic day of the school year, there's the empty room and me. I slump down low in my rolly-chair. Scanning the empty room, I can still feel the thick weight of this week. It's just exhausting. My eight years of experience tell me to brace hard. But this week still hits me like a freight train anyway.
The letdown. After cramming so much into a week- poof, just like that, it's over. Then, in the quiet, a thought starts to bubble to the surface. A precious moment of clarity. The stillness and emptiness remind me of just how much I still enjoy this. The testing, the accountability, the paperwork, the tutoring, the documentation, the stress. It's almost more than I can bear at times. But then I have moments like this.
I'm not thinking of Scantrons or No. 2 pencils. I'm not thinking about how to integrate our new writing textbook or assigning report card grades. I'm remembering how I got my rear handed to me today by one of my GT students in a chess game. I'm remembering jamming on guitars with a ten-year-old kid who's cooler than I am. I played a hilarious game with an amazing girl that involves trying to narrate every second of your life out loud. I finished reading a wonderful book to my precious class. I took goofy pictures of them while they made gingerbread houses. And I laughed today. A lot.
The simple fact is, I love teaching children. Their smiles, and wonder, and curiosity satisfy something deep within my heart. I just need days like this to remind me.