Walking through the back door of school seemed normal yesterday. As I turned the corner and made my way to the back corner, my small space in the wing, the normalcy disappeared.
It wasn't because I haven't walked the halls in four weeks. It wasn't because I didn't see students giving high-fives or special handshakes, or huddling near lockers, or throwing their heads back and laughing, as middle schoolers do.
I could still imagine those scenes. Maybe, I needed to imagine those scenes.
But when I walked into my classroom, my breath hung in the air.
The summer cleaning had begun. The desks were moved to the back, the carpet was shampooed, and the pencil sharpener was emptied.
It wasn't time. I wasn't ready. This wasn't supposed to happen yet. Packing up my room for the summer is the exclamation point on "yes, we made it." And we didn't make it.
My eyes wandered to the student notebooks, still in the tubs with stories unwritten; books, disheveled on the shelves from the frantic moments of choosing one before we left for spring break. The pronoun folder of resources for the lessons when we returned still sat on my desk. Nothing seemed to know that we wouldn't be coming back.
Not being able to say goodbye to my students hasn't quite set in yet. I still "talk" to them online, although it is not the same. But yesterday, I clearly understood that the learning that happens in room 614 had ended. I felt it for the first time since March 13th.
And that was hard.