Thursday, August 31, 2017

Labor Day means a Battle of Emotions for present and former teachers

The last few days, a feeling of having forgotten to do something but not being able to remember what it is has dogged me. Finally, in the middle of last night, I dinged onto the answerI’m missing the last minute lesson plan finalizing, checking off my Things to Do checklist, i.e. copying handouts, gathering textbooks from storage, making sure my sub folder is complete and keeping my stress level in the reasonable zone. My emotions aren't suffering the roller coaster ride of anticipation and anxiety for a new school year, the fear of the unknown and the joy of working with teenagers that always has accompanied every new school year.

During lunch with colleagues still leading classrooms, and through discussions with teachers on Facebook and in emails and texts, I have heard concerns about AYP, PLC, standardized tests, required data collection, and, of course, class schedules, and have felt their excitement, as well as their passion for teaching and meeting new students. Do these situations cause a twinge of sadness for what is now my past? Sure, but on its tail is a sigh of relief. It’s their time, now.

Still, my heart and mind echoes with the Battle of Emotions between the armies of Loss and Relief.
·        Loss because I loved watching my children (as a parent) and other parents’ children (as a teacher) grow academically, emotionally and socially into responsible, reliable and respectful adults.
·        Loss because young people challenged my thinking and kept me authentic.
·        Loss because teenagers kept me laughing, and
·        Loss because I fed on the energy that can only come from teachers, students and administrators.

·        Relief because I don't need to worry about whether I am doing right by my students academically, emotionally and socially.
·        Relief because I don't have to wake up before dawn, to tackle a mountain of papers to grade, or to prep for that night's dinner.
·        Relief because I don't have to face a classroom of recalcitrant adolescents who dare me to turn them on to the love of learning, and
·        Relief because I don't have to deal with administrative directives that detract from teaching and learning.

But…but…the itch that refuses to be scratched is: I loved most everything about school-as a teacher and a student- and always will. As a teacher, I loved seeing the "AHA!  I get it!" lights blink on, relished how kids kept me learning by showing me  a side of a character I never noticed, or an idea or a concept that I hadn't occurred to me, and miss those cherished  moments when struggling students began to believe in their value to themselves, their family, their friends, and to society.

As a teacher,
·        did my frustration level soar when I encountered students who felt they were too cool for school or whose sense of apathetic entitlement challenged my patience? Of course.
·        did the petty dictates of a few administrators puffed up with their newly awarded power cause nights of teeth grinding? Of course.
·        did I despise waking to the clanging of my alarm clock at 4:45AM? Of course.

More importantly, though, I prized lively book discussions with my students and celebrated their happiness when they realized that they could express themselves orally and in writing. Their confidence in their newfound skills and abilities not only warmed my heart but also encouraged me to continue to create lessons that dared them-and me- to keep on reaching higher and trying harder. 

That being said, the arrival of September will always spawn tingles of anticipation, shivers of fear and heart rays of joy. This ninth month of the year will forever be more of a New Year to me than January. From both sides of the desk, I will always, always love school.

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day!

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