Saturday, August 20, 2016

The End is Here: Goodbye Summer, Hello New School Year

Here is my view, the last official "day of summer." (Weekends, excluded--hallelujah, I still have my weekend ahead!)

It's always a bittersweet moment.
It feels like the antithesis of the toasting glasses welcoming the wonder called summer ahead!

As I sit here and reflect on the dark, leafy green fullness of my backyard trees, and compare them to the still-newish, hopeful spring trees of June, it's easy to see the passage of time. The cicadas tell me that. The birds that hone in on the known-feeder, tell me that. The ever-growing grass in August heat tells me that (and that it's time to mow again).

So too do the June, July, and August days that have passed. Adventures, vacations, home improvement projects, books read (for pleasure and professionally), workshops taken, games played, decompression time, and even the days of the minutiae and mundane.

For those who are not "in teaching," it's pretty hard to understand. They see the glory in those "3 months off." For those of us who do teach, we know half of June is spent wrapping up the year and our classroom, and half of August (if not more) is spent looking forward to the year ahead. It's more like 6-8 weeks of true summer if we're really truly lucky!

Additionally, people who don't have work where they "bring home homework" also don't understand. We teachers are packing a whole lot of expectations and catching up into our summertime. We are frantically trying to make up for those nights-'til-11pm grading papers, lesson planning, laminating cutting, or keeping the house going in a forward motion by having clean laundry to make it through "tomorrow." We try to repair the ruffled edges where our house has gone awry from the over-busy-ness of the school year schedule.

As I sit here and look at my list of summer goals for around the house (along with school-prep for the year ahead & bonding time with my kids), I see a lot that didn't quite happen. But then that begs the question of whether the list was realistic to begin with? Can "9 months" of undone chores, projects, and more truly get done in those 3 months?  Plus, in the hectic-ness & mess of school, sports, and schedules, can we even sustain on that same go-go-go level that often feels 24-7?  Decompression time is vital.  I for one need to remember that I love to read "real" books, binge watch shows on the DVR or Netflix, and catch up on documentaries or podcasts that are meaningful to me.  It's almost like I need to remember how to play, have fun, and just "be" with the people that are important to me.

Sometimes that all gets lost in the school year.  Maybe this summer I was right where I was meant to be, doing what I needed to be doing!

Herein lies the blessing and the curse, which are all just two sides of the same coin. As sad as it is to say goodbye to summer, going back to school has a rejuvenation effect. Newness surrounds and abounds. The creative flow of new ideas, new curriculum, & new classrooms of students all serve as energetic catalysts. The same holds true with the colleagues next door to banter with & bounce ideas off of.  For a teacher, the swirling ideas and beautiful brain spaces don't or can't happen in the backyard alone.

Yes, there's also a beauty in back to school.  I'm starting my 25th year as a teacher on Monday. Luckily, I have a week of set up time & meetings where I get to get my feet wet before the young lads and lassies come.  I can gradually ease back into that oh-so-familiar groove.  But, there's a year of unexpected surprises ahead that does bring a natural glee with it. 'Tis time to bring on the newness that's married with the familiar sights and sounds of school. 

Hmmm... In a lot of ways, it's not much different than sitting on the back patio, toasting the start of summer with champagne. The feeling is the same, if you're open to it!

Backyard pic from my camera; back to school pic from Amanda Burton at; clip art  from; "solar" image from

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