Saturday, June 10, 2023

End of the School Year Reflection

This week marks the end of my school year. I think if I'm counting correctly, it's the end of my 31st year of teaching. I suppose that makes me a well-established veteran teacher. But the funny thing about teaching is that the more you know, the more you realize you don't know. Not to mention, there's always something new in terms of trends (including those from the last few years with remote, hybrid, and pandemic teaching), and kids evolve and change. Kids I'm teaching now in this post-Smartphone & AI-era are much different than those in my first year of teaching in the early 1990s. 

This year I'm tired here at the end of the year. Yes, the end of the school year necessities are always exhausting with report card writing, packing up or tidying up classrooms, post-planning meetings, end of the year extras, and more. But this year feels more exhausting. Again, the past few years have definitely taken their toll as we've crawled to the end of the Covid years. Makes me wonder if we all are still living a little bit in that aftermath still, slightly traumatized. 

But this year too for me has been full of extra challenges. Over the last 11 months I've had two significant knee surgeries, one on each of my knees. Rehabilitating them and experiencing my first FMLA leave a new experience, one that was physically and mentally taxing (prepping sub plans for 6 weeks is never easy). On top of that, we have had 4 deaths in the family over the last 5 months, one of them within the last month, overlapping the end of the school year demands. I had a partner-colleague leave midyear which impacted the nature of my job (and my location within the school building, which means packing up my space), and we've been training his replacement--all of which will be good, but of course it takes time. And then there's the part of me which is the mom, wife, daughter, in-law, sister, friend ... all of which has its own separate demands too.

Maybe it should be of no surprise that I'm tired!!! It's been a year!

I think that this what happens to all of us. Every year has its typical rhythms and cadences, but every year is always so different by its own specific details, impacts, events, surprises, and anniversaries. Every year, your students/your classes are different, each with their own needs and challenges, making no class ever the same. Thinking about that, it strikes me that I've probably been 31 different teachers in my 31 years of teaching--perhaps even more considering summer positions and camps along the way. 

Teachers get some grief about being off for 3 months of the summer. In my personal experience, the days of "3 month-summers" have dwindled to just barely two. The demands on teachers and their plates over the years have also grown significantly. In some ways, it seems teachers are expected to be superhuman with a slew of added responsibilities. This poster kind of sums it up: 

So if you know a teacher, go gentle on them at this time of year. They may be hanging on by a thread.

And if you are a teacher, go gentle on yourself. Your summer has come (or is coming soon). Take time for you. Rest and catch up with yourself, so you can be right and ready and rejuvenated this fall. You've earned it! 

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