Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Empty Hallway

The final bell has rung.  The students left the building cheering and said their final goodbyes to many of their friends for the summer (remember how this was truly the case before technology).  The teachers packed up all of their belongings and locked their classroom door for the final time of the year.  The custodians have cleaned floors and painted walls to make the building shine like new.  Then, the building is quiet.  That moment we have been waiting for all year.  As I worked at my desk, something just wasn't right.  I got up and opened the office door, walked up to the top floor and saw nothing but an empty hallway.  The emptiness hits me smack in the face...I am missing the kids.  The hallway just doesn't seem the same.  A school hallway without students has little to no life, energy, or dreams walking through it. It quickly reminded me of why I am here along with many educators around the world.  It is for one reason....the students.

This empty hallway, just a few weeks ago, welcomed students of various ages, abilities, appearances, backgrounds, and future goals.  You could hear the lockers opening and banging shut.  The rubber of shoes squeaking and the clanking of heels. You could hear the sounds of book bag zippers opening and closing. You could hear the PA system asking for students to come to the office. You could hear the voices of students discussing what they just did in class last period with their friends.  You could hear and see them laughing and joking with one another in the short time they had until their next class. You could see students checking their phones to see who buzzed them in the previous class. You could see student faces that were worried about the test they had in their next class.  You could see students that were tired because they were doing homework until late due to a game the night before. You could see some students alone and looking at the floor as they go from one place to the next. You could see some students taking their sweet time to get where they needed to go next (I can remember this being me back in the day).  On the other hand you could also see students with smiles on their faces hurrying to their next class, ready to go and teachers at their door welcoming them in. Another major thing I notice in this empty hallway that was missing for me is the fact that I love interacting with as many students as I can in a brief amount of time between classes.  I enjoy saying, "Good morning, Sara.  Have a great day!"....or "Good afternoon, Sam.  Are you having an awesome day?"  Many of the students will smile, respond, and keep moving to their next class. A few though take this as an opportunity to share something with me about a class, last night's game, or ask a question they have been trying to track me down about.  I love the sights and the sounds of the hallway when students are around during the school year.  It's like the Turtle Man says, "Live Action!" This empty hallway reminds me of what truly makes a school what it is everyday...the students.

The empty hallway makes me think about how each of them are doing right now.  It was so easy to know this just a couple weeks ago.  Are they hanging with friends?  Are they meeting new friends? Does he/she have a job this summer? Are they alone now that they aren't in school? Do they need someone to talk to? Are they getting enough to eat?  How is their home life? Are they having a good time on vacation with their family? How is their off season workout going?  Did they go to any summer camps?  Are they making college plans? Are the new freshman excited to come to the high school? Are they taking time to just relax? How can I get to know this student better? There are many more things I am sure to think about but the echos in the hallways sure hit home with me today and made me think that I can't wait to know some of the things above.  Do you think they think about us?  If we have made any kind of impact on our students, you can bet on it.

I know the students deserve the time away from school, but I am already excited for the sights and the sounds of the students to come back so that they can fill this empty hallway with their personalities, hopes, and dreams that give it life once again.

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