24 May 2011

It's (Almost) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Do you remember that commercial that used to (maybe still is?) be on TV this time of year where there were images of kids running out of school, tossing papers into the air while the Christmas favorite "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" played? I thought about that commercial when I got up this morning, thinking to myself, "That is so true! I LOVE being a teacher!!"

And I do. Not just in June, July and August, but during my official working months as well.

Most of the time.

The last week of school belongs to a very special circle of hell for a teacher who actually intends to do anything related to school work. I suppose I was foolish enough to count myself in that group this year. But what choice did I have? Between state tests and field trips and assemblies, there were only about four available days for me to have projects due. Today was one of those days. It was supposed to be a field day for the younger students (my school covers K-12), but the field day was cancelled for weather, and wasn't supposed to impact my students until the last hour of the day anyway.

But then, somehow, magically - everyone started disappearing. Teachers started putting on movies in their rooms and playing games and it turned into a school-optional day. I had to corral students back into my room and coerce our very kind secretary to announce over the intercom to my next class that if they wanted a grade they had to show up. I had to not so very kindly inform my writing students that their portfolio, which we had been talking about EVERY day for the last month and a half, was still due today, and not the last day of school. I was met with very blank 'are you serious?!!' stares and panicked pleas to call home and requests to turn in assignments on the last day of school and suddenly the end of the school year (which is a mere two days away) could. not. come. soon. enough.

I've learned more than a little bit this year about the different cultures of education in our country. When I was in high school, I lived in a very comfortable 'you either go to a private school or a public school' mentality, and thought that if you had a good public school you were lucky and if you went to a bad one it was unfortunate but you couldn't do anything about it. Now I teach with schools that have many more options for students and families who want flexibility in how they educate their children. On the whole, I don't think this is a terrible thing. I think it is good for families to be involved in who and where their kids are taught.

But I do start having issues when the culture of school, then, carries out that mentality of 'optional'. When going to class or completing assignments or showing up on time is only done in the spirit of convenience and not out of duty or honor. What you decide to do, you commit to, and you do it well.

Ugh. I don't like using this as an opportunity to vent. I'd rather spout of random philosophical theories and talking points and write something actually worth reading. But you know what? Sometimes life is just frustrating and obnoxious and people are stupid (and they can't help it, especially when they're 13. . . ) and two days from now. . . it won't be my problem any more.

Summer? Thank you for (almost) being here today!

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