It’s February. This starts the time of doom of any school year – no more big breaks, cold and dark winter atmosphere, and sink of swim time for grades. The timing has shown this past week. There was a fight in my classroom, which has actually never happened in eight years (aside from a stray punch one time my first year). A kid served a detention with me and was super annoying and passive aggressive. A TON of my students failed a test, despite our review session, a comprehensive study guide, and my offer for study hall study sessions (which only five students took me up on; those five students did well…). Add that to the fact that it hasn’t stopped snowing here in about five days, and it’s truly the time from h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
To be frank, I’m ready for summer. I could argue that at times summer break does more harm than good; I am rational and can see that. Kids don’t retain much, so the beginning of the next school year is a refresher instead of an intro to truly new material. But, every February I am reminded why the summer months are so very important to everyone. We need summer, quite frankly, so we (and the students) keep our sanity.
I know there’s a whole camp of people (politicians, tax payers, angry parents, etc.) who think teachers are lazy and don’t deserve our pay and benefits. We only work for nine months out of the year, they say. While everyone has a right to his/her opinion (you have seen the blog title, yes?), this one just so happens to be wrong. Not only am I only paid for the actual school year and simply spread out my pay over the course of the entire year, but I actually work during the summer. I read novels. I plan lessons. I take classes. I read educational journals. Lifelong learning – I practice what I preach. I do all that while the students are home, basking in the glow of the summer sun, all in an effort to make the next school year even better.
And after those months of respite, study, and planning, I feel ready. Ready to face another round of 130 students who don’t want to be back at school, because I DO want to be back to school. I actually love my job, and I look forward to seeing the growth of my students each year. I love reflecting on what worked in the past, and mixing things up a bit each year with some new materials and methods. But I know that without those blissful summer months to give me some distance and perspective, I would NOT have that optimism I feel the night before the first night of every school year. I would be too worn out from grading 130 papers (oh, the grammar!), analyzing the crap out of countless novels, intervening in bullying incidents, counseling teen girls with various degrees of emotional instability and hangups, and trying to cram lunch down in 20 minutes so I can make copies and make contact with parents day in and day out.
Thoughts of that anticipation and excitement will keep me going through these dark winter days. Even after my less-than-optimistic week, I am still not ready to start a daily countdown to summer. That’s saying something about my character, all right. Project Optimism is working!
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