Teachers Are Lucky

20150224_160219I’m free! That’s the feeling that most teachers have at the end of the school year. Ironically, reflection, exhaustion and self-doubt encompass that feeling, as well. So, technically, we are not really free. Teachers don’t necessarily share those feelings as often though, except with other teachers.

The mind of a teacher is best compared to that of a parent. Our “kids” are always in our thoughts and our positive impact is unknown. There are some small milestones along the way that give us instant gratification, but the real impact will not be shown until years later. We are players in The Waiting Game. It’s a game that never ends because it is impossible to know how every student has turned out.

Reflection begins the moment that we say goodbye to our current students. Did they learn what they were supposed to? Did I do enough to help them succeed? How could I have helped them better? How could I have taught that subject better? Why didn’t I do more of _____ to assist this student’s learning? Will they remember life’s little tidbits that I shared with them? What could I have done differently this year? How can I improve? The questions are never-ending!

Teachers think about their students long after they leave their classroom. And to be honest, some students tend to stick out more than others. Each child brings out a different set of questions. How is _____ doing? Did their divorced parents ever stop competing with each other and focus on their child’s life? Did they continue the family pattern of high school dropout, drugs, or alcohol? How are they coping with the abuse that they have suffered? Is their parent still in jail? Are they still in the same foster care or group home? Are they still in school? Did they graduate? Did they attend college? Did they break the cycle and exceed all of society’s expectations?

My school year ended on Friday. According to my husband, today is not Sunday for me; it is my Saturday #2 and will continue until my new school year begins at the end of July. He and other family members joke about how much time teachers have off. Every summer break, I hear one or more of these statements, from non-teachers, in a sarcastic tone, of course: “Teachers are so lucky. You get all of that time off. It must be nice! I only get ___ weeks of vacation. I should be a teacher, so I can have that too.” Now, every teacher responds differently. It can range from a nonchalant “Yeah, I’m looking forward to my time off,” to a defensive, “Well, you could go back to school and do the same.” There is no right. There is no wrong. Honestly, the reply usually depends on the teacher’s current state of mind.

My last school day ended with a coed softball league game, followed by an after game gathering. At the table were six teachers, most of them co-workers. In addition to the discussions about our teaching and former students, we talked about the teaching profession, in general. Each one of us was in agreement that teaching is not about the vacations. Yes, it’s a perk, but it really is about making a difference—academically, socially, and emotionally. It is providing a protected space for students to learn and grow. It is providing a different perspective on the outside world from what they may have seen or been told. It is providing a sense of self-worth and pride in an effort well done. It is providing responsibility and accountability. It is providing the principle that every action has a reaction, and every choice has a consequence, good or bad. It is providing a safe haven for those who don’t feel it at home. It is providing a foundation for a successful life, whatever that might look like.

I believe that every job is important and helps make the world go around. However, I’d like to think that teachers are unique. It is the only career that directly affects our future. Whether it was reading, math, inquiry, problem solving or debating, it was introduced by a teacher. Our future depends on this profession. So, if extended vacation days help a teacher physically recharge, let it be, because in actuality, our mind never stops. We are always thinking about school and students.

Thank you teachers for all that you do and enjoy your summer break.

 

“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.”

Diane GP

Pajama Day

I touch the future. I teach. ~Christa McAuliffe

Diane GP

Character Hero

 

10 Comments

  1. Diane;;A story well written especially the last two paragraphs; Have a good and deserved rest. We have a reputation as a family of teaching whether in a school setting or a work setting. All of us has done it in some format or the other. I remember even your Grandpa Galvez telling me at one time, when he was a foreman at Bohemian distributing in San Bernardino, I keep having to teach some drivers about how to route their stops when delivering” He used to “stop” at our house in Colton, when delivering out of Long Beach, “Well,I’ve got 33 stops today so I guess I’ll get back to Long Beach around 4:30. Now, these were delivery stops, of wine and spirits to liquor stores and others, in the San Bernardino surrounding areas. The next day or two, when he’d stop again, I would ask him just for the fun of it, and sure enough he got there when he said. It was one of the many work lessons I learned from my Dad and it frustrated him to no end , because other drivers with less stops would get in late and get paid overtime and Dad knew it was because of not being able to route properly.

  2. This post was focused on school teachers since it is the end of our school year. I do believe that there is a form of teaching in every job though. I’m glad that you were able to connect it to a personal experience with Grandpa. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Well said Diane. I thought about picking up one of our new novels this weekend while out in Huntington Beach for Sy’s tournament. I want to read and annotate all of them before the year begins and why not start now? Of course, I didn’t do it. I needed the break but the exhaustion hit hard. Between baseball and the post-school year let down, I was spent and so was Peter.

    • Eileen, at least give yourself a couple weeks before you pick up the novel. Enjoy your family time, especially considering that you have two teachers in the house. Thank you for the reminder though! I was planning to read two of our new novels this summer too. It look likes I’ll be stopping at the school this week to pick them up.

  4. I definitely think teachers are unique. A teacher can make a huge difference in one’s life. Watching you the last two years as a teacher has proved to me the wealth of knowledge you must have (college graduate) and the many hours spent preparing, grading, etc. for them. I am so proud to say what a great teacher (and a funny one) you are, as well as a great daughter. Love you so much. Mom

    • Thank you. The funny part is easy for me. 🙂 If my crazy and silly behavior helps them remember something, then it’s all worth it! I am glad that you have had the opportunity to volunteer in my classroom. The kids loved it! As our family has always said, you would have made an excellent teacher; so, it is no surprise that your three daughters became teachers.

  5. One of my reactions to the “you are lucky” comments about having vacation for the summer is “I need it.” It could change too, like you said. Lol

    You are right about being recharged! You are also right about everything else. Well done! Maybe this article will help others understand us a little more.

    Keep up the good work! Continue to inspire, motivate, counsel, teach, parent. Make a difference in a young kid’s life for his/her future! Always remember “The Starfish Story.” “It made a difference for that one.”

    I will also do my best to inspire, motivate, counsel, teach, parent.

    • “I need it” is another great response. It’s definitely the truth! I love that you mentioned “The Starfish Story” as an example. It is one of my favorites! You are absolutely right about inspire, motivate, counsel, and parent, in addition to teaching. I have no doubt that your students feel all of those from you. Considering you teach middle school, your students need a different type of counsel than what I might experience in elementary school. They are lucky to have you in their corner! I’m glad to know teachers like you who are committed to making a difference!

  6. Diane, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I think we often overlooked or forget that there are teachers out there who do more than teach. I still have the names of the teachers that made learning fun and encouraged me to push myself. Thank you for your commitment to teach and mold the children (our future). I hope my children encounter teachers like you when they go to school.

    • Thank you Monica. I appreciate you reading this, as well as your last statement. Like you, I remember the names of teachers who made a difference to me. Keep up the good work yourself and enjoy your summer break.

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