Sunday, August 17, 2008

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..

Which is why it must come to an end. Even though I've been at the school on and off for the last couple weeks, I haven't yet HAD to go in. Alas, after tomorrow that all ends. Bright and early Tuesday morning the school year starts all over again. Well, not for the kids, they don't show up 'till the following Monday. I'm starting my 16th year of teaching, and the two times a year I realize how different this job is from anything else I've done is are the beginning and the end of school. Mainly because not many jobs have an actual ending every year. Accounting, sort of. The pizza business had it's seasons, so did the Chevron. But when you came back to work the next day, it was going to be pretty much the same as the day before. Even when I taught the same thing every year for 10 years, every August I start off with a whole new group of people to work with, and completely different mix of personalities. Yeah, there's always going to be the good kids, the bad kids, the funny ones and the ones that just blend into the flow of the classroom. But every year I have to discover which is which, who will be who and how I will have to deal with them. I still get nervous, wondering if this is going to be an easy year, or will I have a class that pushes the enevelope every day. Last year I was amazed at how much better the first semester was compared to the second half of the year. My 1st semester Psychology class was an incredible amount of fun, and I had some really "hard" kids in it. They talked a lot, voiced their opinions, sometimes loudly, all the time, but it was always about the subject we were discussing. Second semester Psychology was a struggle just to get them interested. I had 3 or 4 pockets of kids that were just too interested in talking about who was doing what with who and what they were going to be doing later that day. First semester was so engaged I never gave a test, we just did projects to show what they learned. Second semester I gave tests just so they would pay attention to the few who were willing to discuss the topics with me. It doesn't matter if you're teaching the same stuff, if you're engaging the class at all you're going to have a different experience every year. (Yes, I've known teachers that have had the same exact year over and over again. Which is why they really shouldn't have been teaching). I think that's what I like so much about teaching, the unpredictability. Meeting new people every year. Ending the year and being able to look back on it and reflect. Starting fresh every August, knowing that this year is going to be the perfect year. No mistakes, no losing my cool, no shoulda-woulda-coulda's. And knowing that no matter what goes wrong, I'll always have NEXT year as the perfect year.

Man, this was supposed to be a lament to the end of the school year, it almost sounds like I'm happy to be starting the new year. Ahhh, must be the little pill I took for my back pain. Good thing I'm not driving.....


Jannx said...

Very, very true, and very, very well spoken.

Good luck with your "perfect" year. And if this doesn't turn out to be your perfect year, well, I hope you will make the best of it.

Wow, it's almost my turn. This is my last week of relaxing "nothing to do" days. Next week, NYC teachers have to return Thursday, August 28th -- students return the following Tuesday, September 2nd. the day after Labor Day. Although teachers return August 28th, the school will be opened for Admin Monday, August 25th, and any teacher who wants to set up their classes early. I tried to get a couple of extra days before the admin return, but in a very polite response, I was told that I should just wait until admin returns. I was annoyed at first, but I realized that I should be happy. I really have to learn to work smarter not harder this coming school year.

Funaki-naki-naki said...

High School seems a lot better than middle school. You know, after teaching 3 classes. :)

Max said...

It keeps surprising me how different education is here compared to other places. Our school has been accessable to us all summer, except for a few days in July. We have custodians there all summer getting the school ready for the next year, and the administrators and secretaries are there except for a week here and a week there. And I just found out that in Utah County where Funaki-naki-naki works, the teachers have keys to the building so they can even work in their classrooms at 2 in the morning if they want. It's crazy how we don't even think about these things enough to consider they might be different elsewhere.
So Funaki-naki-naki, does that mean that you actually LIKE teaching again?

A Paperback Writer said...

you and me and Bobbi Mc Gee.
we got 12 new teachers -- and you stole another one of our veterans.... geez.
I got a fairly decent schedule for this year. Hope I don't have too many problem children to deal with.
I got my tooth fixed today. How 'bout you?

Oh, and the SPED teacher at our school with the initials TV says to tell you hello from her.

Oh, and our grouchy librarian took a different job, so now our STS/computer guru is also the media center person. And guess what? The library is actually going to be OPEN so kids can use it now... wow. It's been years since that was the case.

Max said...

12 new teachers? Holy turnover Batman. We got a whole 1 new teacher, but you already knew that. She replaced another former staff member of yours that retired and then came back for the last half of the year (MG) She didn’t have so much fun because she took over for a teacher that referred to her class as “The Love Bus” and whose entire curriculum revolved around Spongebob Squarepants. Needless to say, the kids loved her, as they always will a teacher who makes them do no work whatsoever. Anyhoo, tell TV I said hi, and JW (counselor) was asking about you today. I told her you quit teaching and moved to Scotland to become a shepherd. (She didn’t believe me.) So DB (as in your STS, not Cooper) is taking over the library? Good for the kids, having a library open more than 20 minutes a day, but who’s going to take over as purveyor of malicious gossip for the school? I mean, it’s not like malicious gossip is just going to go around purveying itself or anything. Say hi to everybody for me and tell my old carpool buddy (SJ) I said hi too.

A Paperback Writer said...

SJ now carpools with math teacher TR -- and she REALLY misses you, as you're a heck of a lot easier to deal with.
Regards to the counselor and the principal and the two English teachers and art teacher and all the others who used to work at our beloved junior high. I have no idea why J would suddenly be asking about me, but that's nice.
Yes, I'm sure the gossip fodder will not spread as far with the computer guru in the library -- mostly because he plans to BE in the library (when he's not fixing stuff in labs) and NOT hanging out in the office talking to secretaries and anyone else who walks in.
And no wonder MG was grumpy about teaching when I saw her at the wedding of the son the former history dept head YH.

Jannx said...

Hello Max. Yes, I agree about it being a bit of a surprise when one discovers "it isn't like this" in other places.

At my school accessibility depends on custodians and admin. The school is open during the summer because I was told admin only receive about 15 days of vacation time as oppose to having approx. two months off. I'm sure teachers would be allowed in the building while admin is there (from June til about the first week in August), but after that, not without admin's approval.

The other factor are custodians (some are nicer than others). If you really don't have to be in the building, then they tend to not like it. One or two don't seem to like it when you are in their way. One, who will be very vocal if you stay a minute past 6pm. He has no problem with opening your classroom door with a "you gotta go" and then proceeds to wait in the lobby for you complaining out loud how some people don't know how to leave. When custodians want the building cleared, a few times in the past(3 or 4), they used the fire drill bell.

As for setting up my classroom, I have no interest in going to school during the month of July -- after months of stress and strain, I don't want to think about or see the inside of the building. Also, the building has to be cleaned, with the furniture moved for floor waxing and polishing.

Once the vacation starts, I'm happy to be out of the building. However, once the summer starts to wind down, I would like to "pop in" a couple of times, just to get the heavy labor out of the way (furniture moving, unpacking boxes, etc...). I want the last week before school starts to focus only on getting organized with lesson preparation, student file organization, material organization, etc....

Next year, I will most likely have to plan my room setup for the first week in August(assuming the floors have been done), and then return at the end of August to work on the organization.