Monday, June 24, 2013

The Final Days...

Yeah, yeah, I know most teachers are out for the summer break. I've read your "beach-bound!" tweets, seen your "feet up!" photos, hid your "margaritas at 11am!" status updates. Whatever.

But some of us are still working. We still have 4 weeks to go, 18 teaching days. Last year at this time I was passing fellow teachers in the halls and wondering what these seemingly secret but special numbers they whispered 13, 12, 11.... I was stressing over finishing the Math book and panicking over my first report cards while they had a semi-delirious smile 9, 8, 7... I was wondering how in the world I could get my students ready for 6th grade/middle school/college valedictorian/Nobel acceptance speeches in just two weeks-- ah, that's what the magic numbers were: The Countdown. The Final Days. How many days left until "Julyteenth" and the freedom of summer break!   4, 3, 2...

Needless to say, I was not ready for summer break.  I did not want summer break.  I was not ready to let go of this life-altering wonderful experience called "Finally, My Own Classroom." Not only was I not ready to give up the keys to the classroom, I wasn't ready to let my first batch of students get on with their (academic) lives without me. But there was no stemming the tide of calendar pages gleefully ripped off and tossed to the ground, the end of the school year was going to happen whether I was ready or not. *sigh*

This year, however, I am looking forward to summer. Except for the part where I must update resume, search for jobs, cross fingers I get called in to sweat and stammer through an interview for a job I won't get, of course, but the rest of summer I am totally ready for.  I love, love love, being a P.E. Teacher but there are only so many days one can stand in the sun and wind on the blacktop or dirt field and not feel that one's lungs, skin, and arches will soon rebel. I need some beach time, some reading time, some hang with my sons time. Since I don't know where I'll be next year I'm sad I may be leaving these awesome students and this awesome school, but I still get a smile looking forward to a break.

But anywho... circling back to what I intended to write: Some of us are still working. School is not out, not yet. But since it's close I'm hearing those words that have bothered me: What's left to teach? I finished the text! Movie Day! Nothin' going on today. Stopping by our party? And that's just from the teachers... It killed me most years to send my sons to school the last week since it seemed all they did was watch movies and eat cupcakes. It's funny how teachers will bemoan how students do not read outside of school, they get no music or art outside of school, some would never go to the zoo or even the beach (yes, even living 10 mins away) if not for a field trip, yet do they think children don't eat pizza and waste time? I know my students rarely get outside and play games at home and very, very few play any organized sports, so why would I do anything except try to keep them moving every possible minute I can?

Similar and interesting conversation on Twitter related to report cards being completed weeks before school's end and passed out before last day (Thanks, @bloggucation) -- why send your student to school except for the free babysitting? Maybe I'm too new a teacher to understand the intricacies of dealing with a classroom 20-40 children for 9 months, but isn't the purpose of school to educate students? Yes they need a break once in awhile, we can't push.push every minute, but I think we're teaching students to "check out" too often. Every Friday play time for turning in your homework? The reward for doing your work isn't the learning, it doesn't lead to curiosity, the drive to excel or learn more, to better communication/understanding, it leads to getting to stop doing school work and have more recess! No wonder the recent news reports show 70% of Americans are not engaged in their work/careers, that's what we're teaching them in school.

Am I just on an uninformed rant here? Is there a way, or even a need, to balance free time and learning time at school? Am I just an anti-birthday party Scrooge? Hmmm...







2 comments:

Sue said...

Thanks for your heartfelt post. I agree, school should be about learning and growing together. I detest the countdown and actively work against it. What are we telling students about our love for school?

Joel said...

A comment, whoo hoo! Thank you for reading and for the compliment.
I agree, I think we're telling students there are many other places we'd rather be, or if we have to be at school there are much better things to do than learn.