Some people watch for the Back-to-School advertisements to gauge how near we are to the end of summer break. I use crickets.

When I can hear the crickets, I know it’s time to give some extra attention to planning for the Fall.  It’s a bittersweet sound for me; the mornings where I can linger over morning coffee are coming to a close.

If you are like me, it is a time when that to-do list becomes ever so much more desperate. The things I put off because I was “on vacation” have piled up. If not careful, I will get sucked into the swirling vortex of wasting every minute of my last unscheduled weeks on errands and chores.

For those of us who begin school before Labor Day, it feels like summer has ended – August is not really time off, it’s the time before.

The End of a Year

“My” babies are ready to fly to coop. In just 2 days my third graders will bump up to fourth grade.  We’re both nervous I think: they of the unknown, me of  fear that the preparations we’ve made for this day haven’t been enough.

It has been a privilege to work with these kids.  At times challenging and other times a cakewalk, we started the year as strangers and little-by-little have grown into familiarity.

For some, all I can provide is a temporary haven. School should be a safe place, far removed from domestic issues like hunger or poverty or violence.  That has not always been true for all of my children this year, and when the ugliness of  socioeconomic traumas become apparent, words fail. A hug, a quiet word. The ache and worry that this child has been left behind to float through whatever safety net our society provides is overpowering.

There have been good times. Last week we looked at a text and the depth of the students’ discussion was simply amazing. After a year of hammering students to do something more than retell the facts or plots of a story, it was an exquisite, if momentary high.  They can do it, they can cross over to a real literate life.

This week, our last together, has been spent remembering some of the fun and some of the hard work that has been part of our time together. I am not looking forward to the last day with the kids this year; I know it will be a bittersweet day. A day when we all celebrate making it to that 180th day, but also a day when our paths diverge.