This article was written by Andy McCall. Andy is in his 9th year teaching, and does everything to honor his little girl, Penelope, who passed last year. Check him out on his Blog or on Facebook: Penelope's Path.
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Let’s face it. Summer break is coming to an end and there is nothing we can do about it. Maybe we have inspired that one kid who will one day invent a time machine and let us use it to restart summer. But until then, it is what it is. Forget sleeping in, forget the leisurely Sundays, forget the empty bottles of wine and Netflix screens asking if you are still there. It is time once again to fire up the coffee makers, cover yesterday’s stain on your khakis, and make some kids smile.
We joke a lot about staring at the clock for that last bell and whispering "WTF" to ourselves every single day, but in reality, we love what we do. We are proud to be teachers and wouldn’t trade the classroom for any other job right now. We hate to see the summer end, but look forward to starting a new year with a group of fresh faces. All those eyes staring at you during the lesson you just killed, seeing that kid succeed, and genuinely witnessing a miracle happen because of your hard work. Nothing is more fulfilling and gratifying than that. No matter who you are, super teacher or not, the feeling that makes you want to pull what hair you have left out is due to what education has become. It isn’t YOUR classroom, it is the notion of what YOUR classroom should be from OTHERS that think they know best.
I’m right there with you. The paperwork sucks. The mandates from the state are ridiculous. The 3% raise they want you to cheer about doesn’t cover the 5% insurance hike they tried to sweep under the rug. These OTHERS think you should be doing this instead of that. You feel unappreciated by some and micro-managed by others. I won’t even start on the stressors of standardized testing (that’s for another article!), but you know it is going to hit you in the face the minute you step into the room. The tables are full and the computer batteries are dead. You have to fit 3 years worth of information into 3 weeks because that’s what the pacing guide says. You are tired, you are broke, and you are tired again.
But... you are also freaking awesome! You do this day in and day out, despite all that is stacked against you. Your classroom is YOURS and don’t forget it. No matter how many running records, benchmarks, and state tests that require the patience of a Buddhist monk not to lose your mind, you still manage to get shit done. I tell myself that I cannot change the system, but can change those in the system. These kids, and I include 1st year teachers too, don’t understand everything that comes at you behind the teacher desk; they are just worried about what happens in front of it. You have to remind yourself that you are good at what you do and your kids need you today, and every day after until we meet summer break again.
The struggle is real, but Pledge Allegiance to it. There is probably some famous quote about summer ending and a new school year beginning I could add in here; but who cares about that? You do what you have to and remember that there is nothing wrong with that. Yes, we have to trade a beach for a bar graph, our couch for a cafeteria seat, and late mornings sleeping in for bus duty. But it doesn’t have to get you down. Some kids out there can’t wait to get back to school and escape the reality of home. It is up to us to give them the shot at life they deserve, and that is why we are there. We all live for the summers, but what happens in between them is where the good stuff is.