I don’t know that I was ever completely sold on the idea of being a teacher. I don’t really miss the stress or the countless after school and midnight hours I spent planning lessons and grading papers and writing letters and progress reports home to parents. I don’t miss dealing with entitled attitudes or discipline problems. And I certainly don’t miss feeling like I was some sort of actress or circus performer who had to stand at the front of the room doing magic tricks and jumping through flaming hoops just to keep the students’ attention.

No, I don’t miss any of that.

What I do miss is the students. I miss greeting them as they strolled into the classroom. I miss hearing them tell about the best and worst parts of their week during our Friday discussions. I miss the way they used to fight over who was going to get to read the parts in Julius Caesar, and how excited they would get to read the stories they had written to the class during our freewriting exercises. I miss their jokes and their laughter and the way they would occasionally stop everything to jump out of their chairs and show off their newest dance moves. When I left the Bronx in 2007, the Chicken Noodle Soup was still wildly popular, and every now and then, I still find myself searching for YouTube videos just to get a fix and remember how funny it was to watch some of the kids in my class try to teach it to me.

I never did learn, so don’t bother asking for a demonstration.

But even if I never learned any fresh new dance moves, I did take a lot away from my years spent teaching–a lot of memories, and a whole lot of books, papers and assignments that my students left behind when they ran out the doors into the summer sun. Of course, you know I held onto them. But now that I am a couple of years removed from the classroom and don’t see my self returning anytime soon, it’s time to start letting this stuff go.

First to go, some of my old teaching and resource books…

Next, some of the old folders that my students never bothered to take with them at the end of the year…

But the one thing I will keep is what turned out to be one of my favorite assignments–the end of the year letter. To close out a long year spent together studying Shakespeare and poetry and and composition and vocabulary and everything in between, the final writing assignment I asked my students to complete in my class was a letter. I wrote a letter to them, reflecting back on our year together, reminiscing about some of my favorite, and not so favorite moments, and telling them about my plans for the summer. In return, they did the same.  Some letters made me laugh. Others tugged at my heartstrings. Each and every one of them gave me hope.

I can get rid of everything else, but these I have to keep…

About the Author Lori Romano

I am a writer, photographer, wife, mother, dog owner, half-assed housekeeper and a self-proclaimed coffee and chocolate addict. One day, I will write a book.

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