In just a few days, the school year will be over. We’ll see pictures of children rushing out of the schools’ doors, cheering.
A few days later, with not as much fanfare, teachers will leave the building as well. Some will be proud of the accomplishments of their students over the school year and proud of their role in facilitating those accomplishments.
Some will leave concerned about failures with certain students and already planning how to improve their teaching strategies next year. Most will leave with both pride and concern.
While the teachers have almost two months off, many carry work home with them.
They make manipulatives to use in the classroom. They perfect lesson plans. They read materials to help them in the classroom the next school term, and many go to school.
But, yes, they, as well as the students, are looking forward to the summer. They, too, are dreaming of sleeping late, and, maybe, going to the beach.
I remember the thing I looked forward to most was quiet. If you are in a classroom for eight hours a day, you are subject to a lot of random noise. And you must listen to it very attentively. Any change in that buzz could signal a student not obeying the rules.
In high school, you have to monitor the class changes in the hall. I don’t know if anyone has actually tested the decibel level that chaos can create, but it must be a high number. Then there is eating in the lunchroom or having lunchroom duty. It’s like standing near a crashing waterfall.
To this day, I rarely turn on the television during the day. I still value my peace and quiet.
When I was teaching and summer came, it took me at least a week not to panic as I rose to go somewhere and gathered my pocketbook and keys and did not immediately see my roll book. During the school year, that roll book had to be in your sight or locked up at all times. I guess today no one has a roll book; it is all online.
I also looked forward to time to read for pleasure. If you have to grade more than 100 essays in a week, the last thing you want to do when you finish is read something else, even if it was enjoyable.
Your brain was too fried; all you were good for was mindless television. I always had as much fun reading and going to the library during the summer as the children did in the library’s summer reading program.
The summer vacation is also a time for teachers to catch up on the innumerable chores and duties that have fallen by the wayside during the busy school year. They have time to make and attend those pesky doctor and dentist appointments that they have put off during the school year.
They have time to complete those projects they promised loved ones they would fulfill. They actually can meet a friend for lunch. Or teach their child a skill he or she has been asking about. Gardening, sewing, knitting, riding a bike — the list is endless.
They can finally dust and rearrange that bookcase full of books that has been annoying them for at least three months. (Every time you look at it, you cringe. You know it needs cleaning, but you keep promising yourself, ‘I’ll do it when school is out.’ Now you have to do it.)
If today’s teachers are like I was, they probably have more than just a bookcase to clean.
By the first of June, my whole house was clamoring for attention. It usually took me about two or three weeks to get to all the cleaning I had promised myself I would do when school was out. Mind you, I was not in that much of a hurry.
And if all those chores are behind them, teachers finally have one or two weeks to enjoy a vacation or even a staycation in the comfort of a clean home, with nothing calling for attention.
When teachers leave school for summer vacation, they are not leaping and screaming and scattering papers like their students. But they leave with lightened steps, knowing they will have some time for themselves, not unlike the students.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.