Teaching is considered one of the most emotionally taxing jobs a person could hold, and after working with teenagers for 9 months for my 9th year (it was middle school for 6 years before that), I must agree with this sentiment!! I would not say that it is a thankless job, because there are several students that I reach throughout the year whether it be in academics or life skills, along with some great, understanding parents! However, anyone who has to deal with a teenager or two in the household should know that corralling and holding the attention of 25-35 (yes, classes can be that large) for about 109 minutes can be challenging to say the least. I feel like I’ve hit my stride with management, finally, so that helps when all these new “mandates” come from non-teachers…I wish they had my job for a month…but nothing is permanent in teaching, including how one works with groups of students.
Anyhoo, I don’t want to vent about anything in particular, rather reflect on this past school year for a moment as I’m starting my Memorial Weekend in Amelia Island, probably for the last time this summer. I really like it here, but my dad’s job will only last about 2 weeks more, so I will have to find other, more expensive ways to stay here with beach access…I’m going to walk that beach all weekend as much as my red-headed, fair skinned butt can handle it!
Reflection #1 – On Bribery. I heard on the radio my last 2 days of school about how teachers are “bribeable” so that students can pass classes, be highly recommended for a club or activity, and I guess for other random things. Apparently the older teachers are the ones more susceptible to this bribery, I take some offense at this since it wasn’t confirmed through an official poll or anything, but thinking about it, they’ve done their time I suppose. One of the callers said that a parent worked at a local restaurant and seriously tried to bribe her with shrimp so her child could move on to the next grade!! Once a student tried to bribe me with Taco Bell (ummmm…no), but this is expected and I ignore it, or I’ve never had anyone make a serious bribery request…I must have the “you better not try to bribe me” vibe going on, which is FINE BY ME because this is SOOOOOOO wrong!! One lady on the radio said that a parent tried to bribe her with free shrimp, and others said with bottles of wine –how does that even make it on campus!! I’m not saying that I don’t get random Christmas gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, or end of year gifts from students (I’m not an elementary teacher – those guys rack up!), but these small things are because the students WANT to show the love…remember, I teach high school and this isn’t necessarily the cool thing to do!
Reflection #2 – Students Really Care! Students show they care in many ways: paying attention in class, helping to get others to pay attention, doing their assignments, coming before or after class to chat for a minute, adding you to Social Media after graduation (a big rule for me!), e-mails of concern if they felt bad about what someone else did in the class, parents who choose to communicate how important you were to their child, and gifts. I adore and feel very special when a student chooses to give me a gift, I cherish it and give out “thank you” notes. So, you might wonder, what do high schoolers give? Gift cards to Starbucks (not a plug), cards, candles, and candy are the most popular. The school in which I work has a Secret Senior program where a senior can choose a participating teacher with whom to exchange random gifts throughout the year with Christmas and End-of-year being mandatory…the gifts really vary at this point and it’s a super fun activity! A few years, I could never guess whom it was and was always shocked because I didn’t realize that student felt I made an impact for him or her. Incredibly Touching.
Additionally, the last 2 weekends of school I was REALLY sick, which is also why I haven’t posted anything in a while. The first sick weekend was a cold that knocked me out and made me wonder if I had the touch of the flu. The next weekend I woke up on Saturday to a vicious stomach virus that effectively purged my body of whatever was left and it took me almost a week to start eating like a normal person! On Wednesday of that week, one of my students checked in late and surprised me with Chick-filet chicken soup, and that was my first real meal of the week! I never ask for this stuff, and it is even bringing tears to my eyes now thinking about all the random acts of kindness students will make for their teachers…never let it go unappreciated because they always give from the heart!
Reflection #3 – Bring it Home? Why the heck do I continue to bring stuff home over the summer thinking I’m going to take time to work on it?!?! I bring less every year, and my goals to accomplish become smaller, but this is because teachers seriously need this break to refresh so that we don’t respond to student’s “smartassness” in a way that would get us fired!! The ideas and energy that I have at the beginning of they year is unmatched, especially when compared to the slow, grueling crawl of May! Honestly, I don’t really touch anything MAJORLY school related until about a week before school starts and the energy and excitement starts to truly build. I mean, I bring stuff home all the time during the school year thinking I can do that, be an effective mother, wife, and student, while constantly thinking of what I have to plan or grade. Before teaching, I was in retail management. This wasn’t a particularly stress-free job, but when I went home, I could mentally be home…sometimes I miss that. This summer, I have 3-4 kids who will stay home with me along with doctoral research to complete to get my approval moving along… ‘cause a teacher never stops learning! New teachers, don’t bring it home – or at least make a pact with yourself to not think about it until about 2 weeks before school.
Reflection #4 – OMG, Now I Have to Cook! I am not a chef, and I only cook randomly when inspiration hits, sooooo now I need to give my kiddos more than eggs for dinner, and DH might expect a few nights of dinner since he works crazy, hard hours too. Summertime leaves me with minimal excuses to ignore the housework and feeding schedules. Thankfully, I have older kids who will now be adding more to their responsibilities in the upkeep of the home! Yay free labor! But I still have to cook – *sigh*
While these might not seem like “standard” reflections, whatever that means, these were the things I was thinking about late last week. Remember, 15 years of completed teaching means that I reflect all the darn time, and this was just the weekly moment with the end of the school year. While I love the structure of a daily routine, I plan on relaxing a bit this summer in the midst of my other stressful commitments because I want to be refreshed for those teenage attitudes (good and bad) come the end of July!