Even though the temperature is still rising to the mid to upper 90s each day, the time has come to put away the shorts, swimsuit, and my beloved ball cap and find my make-up and school i.d. School starts Friday. This time of year is bittersweet for me because I’m sad to see summer come to an end; I mean who doesn’t like reading for fun, hanging out with family and friends, going to the local swimming hole, catching up on household projects (I didn’t do this but some people do), Braves games, burgers on the grill, ice cream sandwiches – I think you get my point.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “It must be nice to have summers off.” My response is typically, “Yes, it is, and you can have summers off also if you become a teacher.” The reality is teachers wearing a school i.d. for 10 months means a lot more than delivering and assessing classroom content. When I put my i.d. on in August, I am committing to care for your student. At my school we say, “Northgate is committed to student success.” This means I want to know your student, figure out his or her passions, giftedness, and character. I spend time wondering why he or she is not able to focus in my class, why homework is not done, or why eye contact is not made with other students. Sometimes I find out that students are being bullied, are hungry, or are engaging in harmful habits and help protect your child. But my job goes far beyond the classroom. When I put on my school i.d., I am committing to attend soccer games, dance recitals, music festivals, prom, football games, funerals, write recommendation letters (x100), fill out military references, job references (I should be eating free at Chick-Fil-A for the rest of my life for the number of students I’ve sent to work there), read essays or short stories for contests – you name it, I’ve done it. And my colleagues and I will do it all again this year. Add to this grading over 1,000 (no exaggeration) essays, exams, lesson plans, and the other responsibilities I’m paid for, and I am exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally – at the end of the year. This is why wearing my ball cap is so important.
My ball cap represents quiet time, reading time, thinking time, family time, and me time. I need my summers so I can be effective during the school year. This year I caught up on doctor’s appointments, car maintenance, and household projects (not really household projects but doesn’t that sound good right there). I lost the weight I put on during the school year then put it all back on during vacation. I also devoted some time to professional writing, read books about teaching English (nerd alert), and learned from other teachers in my professional learning network. And I wore my ball cap during all of these things.
I love the start of a new school year, and Friday I will put on my school i.d. With the class of 2015 packing up and moving to college, the military, or working, the class of 2016 is in the batter’s box ready for their turn at the plate, and I’m fortunate enough to play a role in their lives. I’m rested, relaxed, and ready for the class of 2016 – and it’s a good thing since I just got my first request for a college reference letter.
Here we go!
Happy New School Year!