Tuesday, July 27, 2010

June, July, and August

Summer vacation in our neck of the woods is quickly coming to a close. By this time next week teachers will be officially back and students will be preparing to attend registration day. In our county the teachers return one day, registration is the next day, followed by another teacher day, and then, finally, the first full day of the school year.

I remember when I was in college working on my bachelor’s degree a professor once asked each of us in an education class why we wanted to be teachers. Well, I had kinda had enough of all the usual “I want to be a beacon unto the children of the world” answers and thought we needed a breath of fresh air in the room. Things were getting laid on pretty thick, if you get my drift. Anyway, I was even more of a wild card then than now so when it came my turn to answer I simply said, “June, July and August”. Well, as you can imagine, that wasn’t the desired answer.

Now, I don’t think I was publicly reprimanded for such a foul thing to say. I wasn’t tarred and feathered or anything. I do remember seeing a lot of the white part of the professor’s eye balls, though and I’m pretty sure several jaws hit the floor. Apparently, many a teacher candidate in the early 90s deposited his or her sense of humor at the classroom door each day. That day was not the first or last time my mouth got me into trouble. Do not fret, dear readers. That professor and I became good buddies, I learned a lot from him, and left his class with an A+. Thank you, H. Foreman.

When I made that comment I was, of course, just joking. Everyone knows that we don’t get three months off in the summer, just two (insert rim shot here :>)!Seriously, having that time off is one of the big perks of the job. It is especially wonderful for those of us with young children. However, (and I learned this one after actually becoming a teacher) a summer break is also very vital to the act of teaching itself.

Several years ago there was an article posted on the Coke machine in our faculty lounge by a man who was advocating summer vacations at a time when calls for year-round school and far fewer days off between school years were first starting to get noticed . He did this by comparing the job of teaching school for a year to the production of a Broadway play. It was an awesome editorial on the subject and I wish I had kept it. I have looked for it on-line much of the day with no luck. So I guess I’ll just have to summarize it here as best I can.

Teaching is unlike many other jobs in that it takes a certain energy to do it well. No, I’m not talking about the kind of energy needed just to crawl out of bed in the morning. It requires creative energy, a certain kind of mental steam and vigor which allows the teacher to be at the top of his or her game.

Imagine that Broadway play. It can only run for so long before the level of workmanship of those involved in the project begins to slip or the audience gets bored with it and begins to dwindle. At some point the play will either close or a new crew and cast will be brought in to take over.

A school year is one big production in itself. Good teachers (I say good teachers because we all know there are enough of the other kind out there that, as well) will spend August-May putting on a grand performance for the benefit of their audience, the students. They will play teacher, mentor, counselor, advisor, nurse, proofreader, coach, cheerleader, tour guide, accountant, salesman, statistician, and in many cases, surrogate moms and dads. At the end of this year a break is needed. Both teacher and student must recharge.

And that’s where June and July come in handy.

To be continued....

1ooth post GIVE AWAY coming soon!

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