End of School Thoughts

I’m home now for my second real summer vacation day after the end of school. I know that some people think that we teachers are such slackers because we don’t teach all year round.

To those people, I would say, just try teaching what I do for a week. No more, just give it a week. Make sure you meet state and national standards, make sure that your students actually remember everything because they will have to show superior scores on their standardized tests, and make sure that every day you are scintillating as well as maintaining an orderly and respectful discipline in your classroom.

If you’re one of those naysayers, I’ll bet you change your tune after a couple of days, not even a week.

This is not saying that teenagers are really problematic, at least not the kids that I teach. Perhaps one student out of my whole day gives me any trouble, and that kid is usually the same trouble in any class. Because I’m a pretty firm disciplinarian–when I have to be–the problem kids usually transfer out of my class, which is an elective (Art), into choir.

I don’t want to wish problem kids on my friend the choir director, of course, but I know that students soon realize they can’t cross the line with me and take their nonsense elsewhere.

It also helps because I teach in the juvenile corrections facility classroom in the afternoon, and much of the time, problem kids get to know me there too. So they know there’s no way around me, the problem. Whether or not they transfer out, as I say, I only face one or two difficulties during most days. The rest of the kids are good company, good kids, and we enjoy each other, but nonetheless, we teachers are ready for school to end.

Teaching is not a simple, straightforward, linear path. It’s a human endeavor, laced with legislative pronouncements and demands that have little to do with the efforts we undertake in our classrooms every day, which include all those human interactions that elders in any community undertake to help their youth grow up–along with all the academics we hope to inculcate.

I’m happy I’m a teacher, but wow! I’m happy to regroup and rest my brain, heart and soul this summertime. Gardens, long walks, books to read–and lessons to plan for next year, I’m grateful for it and in the long run, I imagine the students will be glad I had it too.

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