On Thursday night I found myself holding hands with thirty-five tired educators in a circle, blessing each other. This could only mean one thing: teaching in Berkeley is over.
There were two last days, actually. That’s because there were two of everything this summer: two class sections, two talent shows, two Creative Geometry teachers, two closing ceremonies. In our final hours, we treated our kids to a final exam, a field trip to the Berkeley Art Museum and individual awards that Adrienne and I sewed out of fancy paper and ribbon. Awards like “Most likely to become the Warriors’ mascot and move in to Oracle Arena” were a cover for our secret that we really loved those kids. They seemed amused.
We all reconvened for the closing ceremony, which featured us trying to sound intelligent in front of parents and accepting thank you cards we urged students to write for us. Then there was a convocation featuring student speakers on the verge of shitting themselves with nervousness. If that’s what one is going for, this is the pinnacle of cute high school assemblies. You can’t manufacture that kind of earnestness, you can only force it.
Then I was suddenly at Triple Rock Brewery, drinking a microbrew that was all malt, shouting in someone’s ear about fathers. Asian fathers like to gamble, apparently. On some other level of consciousness, I was writing the last six weeks in the books as a success. It was hard and frustrating and I usually wanted to be doing something else. There were so many things I would have done differently. In some ways we even failed. But I got to do it with Adrienne, we noticed a glimmer of actualization in a few students’ eyes, and I’m reminded why I am a teacher: it is a thing that is impossible to do perfectly and in this way it is an honest human endeavor.