Saturday, May 19, 2012

So here I sit. A teacher on the first Saturday night of summer break. I sit here still awake at 12:30am (so technically it is actually the first Sunday morning of break) not worrying about getting lesson plans done or grading papers. Tonight, I am up pacing the floors because my son is currently at his junior prom! It is my appointed round to wait up and to go and gather him from his girlfriends house at 2:30am. So with time on my hands I have turned to the internet and the creation of yet another blog.

This blog is meant for one purpose. To help my restless mind find peace on those nights when sleep escapes me which seems to happen more and more the older I get. Along the way I also believe that this blog might proof entertaining or even educational to some about what happens during the life of a teacher during their summer break. I also feel that in many ways as I reflect and share may days with you that I will also learn and grow and find much to laugh about. After all, if we can not laugh at ourselves then we truly lake a true sense of humor.

So for this night I will not look back to far. But rather just to the last week of school. We only had four days of school with the kids and one day to work with no kids at all. Sure sounds easy and 11 years ago I would have gladly joined you in saying that "those teachers sure have it easy!" I mean lets look at those four days of school. Monday was field day. Tuesday half the school went on a field trip to the park. Wednesday half the school went on a field trip to a movie. And Thursday, well all they did was awards day programs in the morning. Sure sounds like a piece of cake to me.

Well let me tell you how it went for me. Normally, I work with only a small population of the children that need special education services. I design lessons built around the strength of these children and constantly work to lift them to the next level of learning. Om Monday instead of only working with my small group I worked with 600 students and had teach them all how to do an activity they had never done and even though some of them were really bad at the activities I had to make sure that all of the kids had fun while being really bad. Also on this day I got the rare pleasure of interacting with 100 or more parents who felt that they knew how each activity could be managed just a little bit better....not that what i was doing was wrong. I started setting up at 8:00 and managed o have 45 minutes for lunch and a restroom break. And as soon as we were finished I got to clean up and rush off to car duty where 100 or so parents were waiting to pick up their children.

Now mind you...I love field day. It has nothing to do with me it it for the kids. As the teachers we fully understand this and it is the reason we do it each year. However, understand this, just because we were having field day that did not mean that all of the end of the year paper work was being rolled back. Nope. The last day was coming and all of our grades, Professional Development Logs and countless reports and files were still due before we could start our summer break. It just meant that all of this work was going to be done on our own time.

But that is okay. It is the nature of any job that has an opening day and a closing day. Before joining the teaching profession I was a home builder. I remember the first year that the company owner came to me and told me we were going to build a two story house inside the fairgrounds for the annual home and garden show. I was both excited and nervous. We would only have 11 days to build the house and have it ready for the thousands of people to pass through it. It seemed like an impossible task when spoken aloud. But, the house was not actually built in 11 days. In reality it took months of planning and preparation before we even drove the first nail. When we did start the house we worked for 11 days around the clock which in essence turned those 11 days into 33 days. On the opening day of the home and garden show we were ready. A brand new two story home had been built inside the exposition hall and even had landscaping and grass growing out front. It was a beautiful home. At the end of the 11 days we all patted each other on the back as the last of the visitors left and picked up our hammers, saws and shovels and dismantled that house in 3 days. We left no trace that we had ever even been there...only those who came and saw it during the show.

No one asked if we were tired. no one cared how much work it took. We did not receive a special award or any recognition. In the end, the owner patted me on the shoulder and told me to go home and get some rest. That was it. I had done the job I had been hired to do but before starting the next job I went home and rested.

Such is the nature of the life of a teacher. The few hours that your child is at school is like the home and garden show. They and you are seeing the long hours put in before school and after school by professionals who are not asking for any additional recognition or special accommodations. We know that to be at the top of our games it takes the extra time. Teachers care! They want the product to be the best it can be and they sacrifice everyday to make it the best. But the problem is that few people understand that the product that we are producing is not our lesson plans, power points, videos, our cool projects! It is more! So,so much more. We take a child who cannot recognize a letter from their own name and we teach the to read, we take children who are afraid to speak in public and teach them to sing, dance, and act, we take the struggling writers and watch them grow into poets, authors of stories and songs, we take a child who could not remember his own telephone number and help them become mathletes! We are teachers! We do not know the easy way, there are no short cuts, and we make no excuses for excellence. We believe in change and know that change does not come easy. We are dedicated. When others say it is impossible we accept the challenge and keep moving forward. When a struggling child picks up a book and reads for the first time on his own, it is not a miracle, it is the hard work of a dedicated teacher. No one is really a self-made man. Everyone, I mean everyone has a teacher who has sacrificed in order for you to be what you are today! That is what good teachers do!

So as stated above...I seek no new recompense or special recognition only that pat on my shoulder and the right to go home and rest for a few days before we take up the challenge of changing the world again.

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