Recently, Michael Smith wrote a blog on Principal's Page about the ritual teachers have of counting down the days until the end of the year. (By the way, if you don't subscribe to Michael's blog, you should. It makes me laugh everytime.) And, very tongue in cheek as always, Michael sort of hinted at the bizarre idea of this act. Why do we count down the days? Why are we rushing to get through our life?
It really got me thinking. I have been counting down since spring break. Now, the reality is I don't really have a countdown. I knew a week ago how many days were left but I've forgotten that number while trying to remember everything I still need to cover before the year is up. Last week I counted 7 weeks left. But I can't remember if that included last week or not. So I really don't even know about weeks. But give me a day where the kids are unruly, my colleagues are cranky, and the parents are calling and I will pull out my calendar again.
So why do I count? One reason is the obvious - I need a break. I have never worked in a 12 month a year job. Michael admits that working all year sort of negates the need to count down to the end of the year. After all, there is no end of the year. I have never experienced that. I have looped with two of my classes so the summer was just a long break before getting back to work but I still looked forward to that long vacation. I dream of sleeping for a whole day. I haven't ever actually done that but it's nice to know I could if I wanted to. I imagine floating in the pool, lazing on the beach, taking long drives, reading for a whole day. And sometimes I even do those things, without feeling guilty that I am not accomplishing anything on my to-do list.
But mostly, I realize that I look forward to the summer in order to accomplish all I want to do during the year but never have the time. Most of it is actually school related. I need time to revamp my units that didn't quite meet my expectations this year. I need time to read all the books my PLN had been reading all year that I could never get through. I need time to connect with collaborators and set things up for the new year. I need time to take classes, go to conferences, read online, watch presentations, read my education magazines, attend webinars...time to learn.
I need to say goodbye to my students, cry a bit at leaving them, and move on to the next class. I need to feel that anticipation of new students. Will this be the year I have that child I truly cannot handle? Will this be the year my students and I save the world? Will this be the year that I change the life of one student so drastically that a diamond is uncovered?
I feel that now my students and I are done. They have not learned everything but they've learned enough to support themselves in middle school. They have not mastered all the life lessons I have tried to instill, but they do think about them every once in a while. They are ready. And so am I. So we will try to make the best of the last 6 weeks (or 5 or...), finishing up projects, preparing for a new year, saying good-bye. And then I will grab a book and float in my pool. I really need the summer.
Wave Goodbye: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25467267@N00/2313171813/