I held off on telling my students that I was leaving at the end of my corps member experience. My kids don’t know what Teach For America is, but they do know that all of the white teachers in this town have a weird habit of staying for only a two-year period. And I knew that, despite my intentions, I had to make that announcement to somewhat cap off the winding down of the year, as I felt it would result in lesser investment from students.
I knew the cat would get out of the bag quickly, so I chose to break the news to one of my afternoon classes on Thursday — the class most curious about me as a person — before telling every other class on Friday. After spending weeks deferring all questions, I promised that I would make an announcement in the final five minutes of that Thursday class.
And so, I did. And it was hard, in a way that I never thought possible. As established in every other post on this blog, I don’t really like anything about my placement. And in that way, my job search and subsequent employment in Houston was so exciting and liberating, because I had nothing of value that I was losing by leaving this place.
Or so it seemed.
But by telling my students in that class that I was leaving, I broke the 21 most valuable relationships that I had made at the school where I teach.
It was hard to make the words come out, but they did. The class turned somber, a few mouths dropped, and others were left speechless. Yet there was an awkward sense of excitement.
“Sir, can we take pictures?”
“Sir, will you sign my yearbook?”
(we did neither, as I am still there for a few more weeks.)
While I was not in tears, I was closer than I could have ever imagined.