Yesterday, I said good-bye to my kinders and closed up my classroom for the summer. What a bittersweet day it was! On the one hand, I was overjoyed that I was finally able to take some time to relax and rejuvenate. This has truly been one of my most challenging years. On the other hand, though, what a joy it is to think back to August and place that next to the growth I saw this month! To be able to make an impact in the life of another human being - despite the fact that they are 6 years old - is an incredible feeling and one that I cherish every year! As teachers, we know how much the slightest word or gesture can affect a child. The climate that we create in our classrooms is key to what we can accomplish. If our students know that we care about them, they will try their hardest to do the tasks in which we ask of them. But if we are stiff and immobile and unwilling to conform to their needs, they will know that and our educational goals for them will probably not be reached. I know that I spend every evening and part of my weekends, preparing for the next day re-evaluating what worked and what did not, tweaking plans to make sure that the needs of all my students are met. Despite the fact that I have over 20 years of experience teaching kindergarten, I continue to question my methods and my curriculum.
I have had friends who have left teaching because it is too much work; too much stress. They have told me that they have no time for themselves; that they feel used and unappreciated. So, they leave for a job or profession that gives them more time to be themselves. I actually find this a bit ironic in the fact that our profession as teachers is ALWAYS blasted for the time we do NOT teach. Many jokes are made on the fact that teachers only work for 9 months a year, that our school day ends at 3:00 p.m., and that our pay should reflect the fact that we only work 9 months a year. As teachers, we KNOW, though, that in the 9-10 months that we are in our classsrooms, we actually put in TWELVE months of work during that time frame. Teachers work as hard as everyone else; we just do our year in 9 months. We do not get paid for overtime. We do not get compensated for the tears or the bumps and cuts that we soothe every day. We stay up until midnight putting finishing touches on End of Year Scrapbooks and then get up at 6:00 a.m. to face our students with a smile on our face. We go to seminars, read professionally, and keep up on new technology so that we can keep up with the ever changing trends that occur locally, nationally, and around the world. We give our time to attend school events after hours; some of us coach - many of whom VOLUNTEER their time with no monetary compensation. We tutor after school......
Of course, we are creating stories for ourselves, too; stories that we probably will NOT share with our students! We DO need this time to step away from teaching. We need time to do mindless tasks such as washing windows or working in our gardens. We need time to take long walks or hikes. We need time to play in the park with our kids without worrying that we won't have time to get those tests graded or that center laminated. We need time to not have to schedule every minute in our day; to not stress over the fact that a school assembly is cutting into our literacy time and we have no idea how we are going to get that time back.
Our brains need this time to re-boot; to take a short break from it because before we know it, we will be asked to start all over again. For we will be asked, once again, to stimulate the minds of young learners and I for one, know that when that time comes, I will be up for the challenge. But for now... I am going to take some time creating my own summer story, do mindless tasks such as organizing my house, painting a room, de-cluttering my garage, and trying new recipes.
Yesterday, I closed up my classroom, said good-bye to my students, and walked away with a feeling of a job well-done. Yes, teaching IS hard work, but if you are up for the challenge, it is a profession like no other and teachers NEED this short break given to us....... Enjoy this time, my teacher friends.... Make your own summer story....... You have earned it!
Now... it's time to get going on that organization....... :)
Until next time!