Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Vacation

       Many folks dream of the perfect job schedule. One where they work nine or ten months of the year, get multiple days off during the year and get their summers off. Looking around for such a utopian way of work, they spy the teaching profession and pounce. This is it! This will let  me work, but be lazy some of the time as well. You, my friend, have a strange view of what a teacher does during the summer. Let me show you my summer plans.
        This was the first official week of vacation. I spent the first three days taking a project-based learning class (PBL) to use what I learn in the classroom next year. During this "vacation"time, I worked with colleagues/fellow teachers on their first week of vacation who were doing the same thing--working. I'm not complaining. It was an excellent class, one that challenged my thinking and gave me better insight on the project process. I'm a better teacher for having participated.
        After finishing the class, my first "real" day of vacation was Thursday. How did I spend my time? Meeting with my principal to discuss next year, reading a teen book I may want to use in my classroom, and working on developing programming for the upcoming year per my principal's request.
       To be fair, I am being paid for some of these activities. Not pay that's a true representation of the work I complete in a summer. If a CEO or doctor or lawyer created projects or worked during supposedly "down" times, would they reduce their rates of pay? I know, rabbit trail. I'll stop going down this path. Can you tell it's a bargaining year and we haven't settled?
       Next week, before an actual vacation to NYC to see my son, I will continue to work on school projects and hold meetings. Some for pay and some for no pay. Pay isn't my motivation when deciding to do something--value to my students comes first. Kids First, as it should be.I don't mind taking second fiddle to my kids. School should be about them, right?
      The rest of my summer follows a similar pattern. Mostly working, with some fun thrown into the mix. And I'm glad for the opportunities to work with others, brainstorm, work on new ideas--it's what makes me keep my focus on education and Kids First.
       Next time you're in a coffee shop in Grand Forks, look around and see if you can identify the teachers there who are working during their summer vacation. You'll be surprised!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The End is the Beginning

       Last night I said farewell to the class of 2015. Our group of graduates challenged us teachers, for sure, but it was with pure joy for them that I celebrated their success and achievement. So today, my last official school day of the year, brings thoughts of the former year? My outgoing students? Actually, I my mind began generating sparks for the next year. What will my next year look like? What will I try next year?
       It seems a bit strange that the ink is barely dry on the diplomas for this graduating class and I'm already thinking about next year. What I can do better. What can I do more efficiently? How can I engage the unengaged?
      One thing I'd like to try is to have a lunchtime book club. A colleague told me how he conducted this during lunch hour at his old school so I "stole" the idea. I can't wait to see how it goes next year.
      A goal I have before the beginning of next year is to read--a lot. I am picking the brains of my fellow English teachers, amassing a list of "must" read books. I've completed a couple and glad I did. Great books to offer students next year.
      I know I'm no different from most teachers. Few of us look at the end of school as the end. For most of us it's the end of the beginning. The end of one year and the beginning of planning and looking to the next. I can almost smell those fresh school supplies already. Can you?