It isn't just my kids (or Rick) who have problems with change. I don't like it, much, either. Teaching college classes allows for some great constancies while also allowing for change that is planned and expected. It fits me, this job, so much so that I have rarely entertained doing something else for very long.
I always get a little blue at the end of semesters, as classes wrap up and I say goodbye to new and old students. This semester was a big wrap up, as I watched about a dozen very cared for present and previous students graduate last night. It was awesome to see them earn their associates degree, and I admit to getting misty-eyed over it. It's also a little sad, as they'll no longer be a regular fixture in my life.
All of the students I watched walk across the stage last night will still be connected to me via facebook, so I know I'm not losing that connection permanently, although there are hundreds of students (if not thousands) whom I've lost track of over my teaching career--it's the way it works. Some of the students, though, I've been so blessed to become close friends with. It's one of the best parts of teaching--especially a community college where students come in a wide range of ages and with a diversity of knowledge and interest.
I've always viewed the college experience as a collaboration between students and teachers. I have things I must teach--MLA format, how to put together a cogent essay, how to look up information and weed out the unreliable, along with the fundamentals of psychology. Both disciplines I teach I naturally feel are incredibly important in making people better, in general: better thinkers, better writers, better people.
But my students don't come to me as blank slates ready for me to impart my wisdom on them. They come to me already realized people with values and opinions, with life experiences that I may not even begin to fathom. They have as much to teach me as I do them, and along the way, that means many of them I come to know well, to care deeply about, and to learn from.
That is the greatest blessing that being a teacher provides to me: the continued chance for ME to learn and grow. Teaching, although I have to meet specific goals, allows for me to let my students learn and grow in their own ways, to take the material we study as they learn to write and make it personally relevant to them.
The longer I teach the more humbled I am at what students have to offer me, to teach me, to help me be a better person.
I am sad to know that next fall there will be a lot of change, that most of my students and many of the faces in the hallways won't be familiar ones, but I am also heartened to know that these new faces will have the chance to become familiar ones, that the journey will begin again, and that the new students and I will travel both uncharted and charted territories together.