Tag Archives: summer

Slithering summer

The fantasy…(someone please Photoshop that kid out of there…)
The reality. The real really real reality.

Ah, those last few weeks in U.S. public schools before students and staff leave for summer break. When teachers all over the nation are worried about ‘summer slide’ and for their students, and perhaps themselves: thinking about what professional development may boost spirits and lighten the soul, or thinking about how much they’ve put off to those magical summer months of repair and rejuvenation. Personally, I’m finding it difficult to soldier on through the rest of the year, namely because of content: my fanaticism for history and big, bold, brash units feels like my gate valve to flow froze. Nah, wait, it’s not that bad, is it!? I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about the bloody mess that was the Civil War and how our current political climate parallels and is analogous to the mythically dangerous Lost Cause? I just KNOW I’ve got one more Prezi or Screen-Cast-O-Matic presentation in me SOMEWHERE…I JUST KNOW IT!  As Dewey as my witness, I swear I shall never fail the end of the year again!

Personally, I’m finding it difficult to soldier on through the rest of the year, namely because of content: my fanaticism for history and big, bold, brash units feels like my gate valve of flow froze.

Nah, wait, it’s not that bad, is it!? I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about the bloody mess that was the Civil War and how our current political climate parallels and is analogous to the mythically dangerous Lost Cause? I just KNOW I’ve got one more Prezi or Screen-Cast-O-Matic presentation in me SOMEWHERE…I JUST KNOW IT!  As Dewey as my witness, I swear I shall never fail the end of the year again!

Goodness. *Sneezes from allergies: resumes typing: notices left eye is twitching a bit.*

All right: time to scribe the power of three ideas.

1. Please stop.

summer programsI am not, repeat not, criticizing any teacher. This is my personal reaction to the word “accountability.’ Accountability stole all the oxygen out of my teaching lungs for a time. I would walk two miles out of my way to avoid the bully ‘accountability.’ Accountability steals milk money, and posts smack on social media. Now, however, its cousin, ‘engagement’ and wiser auntie ‘choice’ have much better success. Right now I’m not sure how I feel about summer slide, or if it even matters. Yes, would I love it if students found those secret, delicious books that seem to speak only to them and they voraciously read all summer? Heck yes. But this notion of summer reading, once it gets the taint of accountability on it, it’s destroyed. If I have any influence on the continuity between the 7th-grade students and the incoming 8th, I plan on having our local librarian and ‘She Who Has Been Hugged Personally By Neil Gaiman’ Rebecca H. She’s coming to our school again, luring children to her library lair of fantastic books, electronic prizes, and air conditioning. Power mojo indeed.

True story. She was hugged by Neil Gaiman.

2. Bits and the Declutter Movement

If you search “end of year projects/teachers” you’ll come up with a slew of them. I’m trying to think of things to do that aren’t too brain-heavy but still engaging enough. It’s warmer than usual, too (Thanks, climate change!), and it’s still testing season. I wasn’t joking when I said it would be challenging to finish the year with someone as depressing and unrelenting as the Civil War. However, I did read a great article that put so much into perspective. I suggest you read it, too. We did a quick close-read today, with focus on the word “hauling” in the title (why not, ‘taking down’ or ‘removing?’ Because ‘hauling’ is a burden, a heavy weight.)

But one of my summer projects I’ve set in stone is cleaning out multiple drives and years of old lessons. There is no reason to keep 3,000 Smartboards and duplicate Power Points. Time to clean digital house.

3. May-June Ideas

Dang, am I here again? What can I do right now for these last few weeks? My younger son is graduating, and planning for our families coming into town, etc. is taking up mental space. Our house is falling apart and financially there is nothing we can do about it.

Help, is about all I can say. Does anyone have THE cracker-jack, most amazing lesson idea ever?

*crickets*

Maybe ‘come clean Mrs. Love’s trashy backyard pool and see how mosquitos are born’ would be a good one.

PS I’m also going to take my own advice. And, start deleting some grades that won’t help in student growth or reflection.

TO THE GRADEBOOK!

Taking stock.

One of my BFFs recently posted her highlights of her summer, most, if not all, included time spent with friends and family. Her wonderful words made me stop and think what would I be grateful for about these past few weeks? I need to step out of the mud miring the beginning of this school year, forget about all the people who say, “oh, you get summers off!” and show some gratitude and count some blessings.

Before I can get to the chewy center, though, I need to get this off my chest: teachers get the summers off because our students do. We are not paid. We are not under ‘contract.’ We are on a forced vacation. Many teachers take summer jobs. Many teachers teach summer school. Most teachers do some sort of professional development, paid for out of their time and pocketbooks. If I added up the hours I spent working during the school year, it would equal any high-level executive, including being accessible to students practically 24/7 on e-mail, voice mail, and in person before or after school (unless of course I am in a meeting, which is often the case…we have meetings to talk about how to help students while the students are standing outside in the cold, literally and figuratively). I put in my time well beyond my contract day, and I love my job, so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice or burden. And, one of the reasons I became a teacher (as opposed to going back into a higher-paying position) was I knew the sacrifice of salary would allow me to spend time with my family, too. So, fine. Yes. I’m lucky to have ‘summers off.’ But it is kind of hard to be a teacher when the students are not there! Most schools in the United States still run on an agrarian calendar, meaning we don’t have school when the children need to be working the farms with their parents. What? You say you don’t have a farm? Oh.

Anyway, here are the highlights of my summer:

  • Meeting new friends during my three-week writers’ workshop
  • Discovering the UW campus at that workshop
  • Seeing my youngest sister and her family
  • Having our portraits taken by a talented photographer who captured a beautiful photo of me and my two sisters (my parents will LOVE it!)
  • Enjoying time in Texas
  • Being there when my grandmother had her 90th birthday
  • Getting the garage cleaned out and finding all of my Halloween decorations for a spooky October this year
  • Learning how to make glass pendants
  • Reading some great books
  • Spending time with my dad
  • Learning about a variety of good news from friends and colleagues
  • Getting some of my sleep issues taken care of
  • Spending time with my boys and my husband, and actually having time to cook meals, talk, and enjoy each others’ company (this isn’t last because it’s the least important, it is the most important one of all, and supports everything else I do)

So, it’s time to enjoy the mental ‘harvest’ I’ve collected over the summer, and use it to nourish me throughout the school year. I am honored to be a teacher, and get to meet this next group of young adults. See you soon!