Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Fond Farewell: Thoughts on Graduation

This past weekend, my grade 12 residence students bid adieu to our school as they walked across the stage to receive their high school diploma. They looked lovely in their white dresses, with their hair and makeup all done-up so fine, and grinning from ear to ear. 

This was only my second graduation ceremony as a teacher and as proud as the students were for making it this far, I was proud to have watched them grow and develop their amazing skills over the past couple of years. In someways, I can't imagine being more attached to a graduating class. After all, as a residence teacher, I didn't just see the academic side. I lived with most of these girls for 2 years. While I worked with them, they taught me how to teach English and how to better listen and support others. While their day school teachers often saw them at their best, I saw it all--the ups and downs, the fights and resolutions, the late night ramen (or other snacks), the crankiness and the goofiness. Talk about a different perspective. One that I will forever treasure.

As I walked into the ceremony, one of my more experienced coworkers made an off hand comment about the number of graduation ceremonies that they had attended. While they were still excited for our current graduates, the comment made me pause. I started to wonder would I ever become jaded to the idea of a graduation? If you watch too many graduation ceremonies... if you see thousands of students passing through and going on from high school to university will you start to see them as a bother or a bore?
A mini-bouquet from one of my students

I hope not. 

I want to take a lesson from this. So, dear future me, no matter how old you get... no matter how many students walk through your life... no matter how many times you have to repeat instructions... or no matter how many times you want to bang your head against a wall after a lesson gone awry, never forget why you decided to become a teacher in the first place. Teaching for that aha-moment, for the progression a student makes from A to B, for the simple conversations that somehow make all the difference, and the graduation celebrations as they leave to take on the world. When they leave, yes I hope that I made a difference in their lives, but really, at the end of the day, I'm here because I believe they are worth my time and investment--whether they valued it or not. And because of that, every graduation should always be a celebration of how far they've come and how far they'll go.

From my study of psychology, I know that a large part of emotion is choice, and I hope that I will always choose to celebrate the milestones of others. 
Love and Hugs

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