Why I Cried in my Classroom Today

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

I was talking to another teacher yesterday and he was telling me he’s ready to come back to school. “I hate the end of things – whether it’s the school year or the summer – I get impatient to start what’s next .”

I hate the end of things too, but for an entirely different reason. I hate endings.

  • I always hesitate before turning the last page of a truly great book – because I’m reluctant to say good-bye to the characters.
  • I’ve never seen the final episode for Full House, Wonder Years, Dawson’s Creek, or Gilmore Girls because if the screenwriters choose to NOT give the characters a happily ever after, I didn’t want to see it. I’d prefer the unknown to a resolution that would haunt me.
  • The end of the school year makes me cry – those kiddos will go on to great adventures, but I won’t be in their day-to-day lives to see their triumphs.
But there’s something particularly awful about the end of summer, because not only does it mark a new beginning, but it requires classroom set-up as well. I am not a visual-spatial person. The idea of setting up a single room so that it’s functional for 28 people is beyond my scope. So each year I stand in the chaos of desks and boxes, folders and textbooks and I cry. Every year.

But why? I’m not a crier and even though I never believe it in-that-moment, I know it will all get finished and organized – or at least shoved away somewhere.

So why tears?

It’s because of the NEW. I’m not crying for loose-leaf paper or post-it notes. Not even for that last desk that won’t fit anywhere or the spelling book that’s gone missing over the summer.

I’m crying because I’m worried about the NEW. My tears say: Hey New Kiddos I Don’t Know Yet, I want this classroom to be perfect for YOU and I hope you like it and I hope you like me.


I know by late September I’ll be able to tell any of these kiddos to find a spot for the index cards or a better way to store the extra copies of Time For Kids. They’ll be telling me where they want to sit and how to rearrange the desks.

… but that first day, when we don’t know each other yet, I want to offer them perfection.

I feel the same way about writing. I’ve been dreading and procrastinating about my next writing project. LUCKY MIA’S still on the walls of the NTB – even though I haven’t needed those notes in months. I just can’t bring myself to erase them yet.

What if I don’t love my next project as much as I love this book? What if the characters don’t resonate as loudly or keep me up at night with fierce wonderings? My outdated MIA-notes are a literary security blanket, they’re a reflection of my endings issues. I don’t want to let go.

But it’s FEARLESS Summer, so I will. I spent yesterday afternoon making notes on potential next projects. I’ve got five vying for my attention, clamoring to be noticed. I used my big teacher paper and markers – I’m not ready to commit one to the whiteboard walls yet – and gave each story the chance to say “Pick me!” And they ALL did.


So, baby steps. I’ve got them on paper… I’ve hung the paper on the wall in the NTB.

Someday soon I’ll be reaching for erasers – both in the classroom and the NTB – and in both instances I’ll learn, as I always do, that while new may be scary… it’s also so exhilarating too.

5 comments


  • It’s nice that you care what they think and that you want to make a good classroom for them.

    August 19, 2009
  • Mrs Schmidt,
    As the daughter of two teachers, and friend to many more and having been a student once myself, I would like to say “thank you” for being willing to go back every year and face the uncertainty of a new class.
    Teachers are rad!
    Katie (from the River Family)

    August 19, 2009
  • You are a great teacher.

    And you can do ANYTHING! No matter how intimidating it may at first appear.

    August 19, 2009
  • I still want to know what was written on that amazing roll of paper!

    I am so excited for these kiddos who don’t even KNOW how much they lucked out getting assigned to Mrs. Schmidt. Rock the 6th grade, bb. And Rock the new ideas…you WILL love them as much, or even more than the last. ~*~*~*~

    August 26, 2009
  • Andrea – “Try” is the key word there. I do my best and then the kiddos rearrange to create a functional room.

    Katie – if you ever call me MRS. Schmidt again, I’ll bop you 😉 And you all are a pretty RAD bunch yourself. *hugs*

    Courtney – Thanks, babycakes. St.Matt laughs that I’m more intimidated by the furniture than the 27 pre-teens.

    Emily – The paper is SEKRIT. 🙂

    August 27, 2009

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