The kids scream with delight and can\u2019t get away from school fast enough, while teachers go home to lick their wounds. Teachers live by an artificial clock. In June we refer to doing things at the start of \u201cnext year\u201d when that\u2019s really only eight weeks away. We choose to spend our professional lives working with a demographic that would rather be anywhere else than with us on most days. We force a smile when teased about working \u201conly\u201d 10 months a year even as we spend countless hours at night and on weekends to plan and evaluate our lessons. My father-in-law once brought a sock puppet on a car trip because he knew the rest of us would be talking about teaching nonstop (he wanted something to talk to). Eventually, we wonder where the time has gone when former students talk, impossibly, about their own kids. An emotional toll The fact is each graduation day brings a kind of death. Those outside teaching don\u2019t necessarily realize the emotional toll involved as each school year ends. Our careers are an endless cycle of attachment and loss. We begin the year coaxing our students out of their shells, encouraging risks and showing them how even failure is a step toward success. As the year progresses, we see them grow and find themselves as they acquire the confidence they need to face the larger challenges ahead. Along the way, they become \u201cour\u201d kids \u2014 even the ones that drive us crazy sometimes. Empty rooms during the summer As a result, the raucous eruptions of joy those students display at the end of every graduation ceremony are often met with wry smiles and tempered applause by their teachers. Each graduation sees the teachers left behind, emptied, forever rooted to the same patch of highway as we wave our young charges on. We return to a palpable sadness that lingers in school buildings during July and August, a lifeless quality that haunts every room. The ghosts of laughter echo through empty hallways, forgotten quizzes peeking from corners of open lockers. Desks and chairs are piled high outside rooms as they\u2019re cleaned, weary soldiers fresh from the wars. The classrooms themselves still bear the signs of their former occupants from the previous 10 months: Eddie\u2019s alien drawing clings to the bulletin board with one remaining tack; Jimena\u2019s \u201cEnjoy your summer \u2014 I\u2019ll miss you!\u201d still scrawled inside the giant heart she drew on the whiteboard. A new batch of students in the fall Teachers talk a big game about how we can\u2019t wait to hit the beach and spend a weekend without correcting essays, but an emptiness opens inside us every June. When the final faculty meeting of the academic year ends and the last of the cake\u2019s been eaten, the wind leaves our sails. It won\u2019t come back until September, when a new batch of students stumble into our classrooms weighed down by shiny backpacks and their own sadness that summer\u2019s over. Forever grateful Until then, I send congratulations to everyone involved in commencement exercises. To my students, I want to thank you for being everything a teacher could ever ask for. Please understand if I seem a little sad at this time of year because, for me, every graduation day brings with it a fresh wound as I watch you leave. Just know I\u2019m forever grateful for the scars \u2026 You can read more at RobertFWalsh.net and contact him at rob@RobertFWalsh.net or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.