There aren’t many jobs where there is a clear beginning and a clear ending. As a teacher, you go through this process every year. The end was yesterday.
Packing up your room each year is an interesting process. I think I always tell myself that I’ll be better at getting rid of papers throughout the year. But it’s always the same. I’m organizing extra copies and filing them away in hopes that I’ll remember that I have them for the next year. But I’m also telling myself that next year I’ll clean out that file cabinet. Those grades from 11 years ago? I think it’s ok to throw them now. That Math Bingo book I got from someone that retired 5 years ago? I can probably get rid of that too – seeing as I still haven’t used it. Part of me wonders if I should pitch the whole lot of it and start over. Each time you get new textbooks you virtually start over anyway. But you can’t just throw the old stuff. There are some really good materials with each curriculum we’ve used. The tricky thing is that I’m in an old science room that has tons of storage space. So it’s way too easy for me to keep things.
The packing up process was a little different this year. Our rooms are being painted over the summer. So everything needed to be taken off of the walls. The rival high school is having a new roof put on, so they’re using our space for summer school. With funding the way it is, we’re all protective of our stuff. So everyone on the second floor was figuring out a way to keep they’re stuff safe for the summer. We’re good at sharing with our own colleagues. But when the other school comes in? Not so much…
Normally I feel a sense of finality when I pack up my computer. There’s something about packing it up that truly signals that it’s the end. You’re link to the outside world is cut off. Because of the Knights coming over, we had to leave them out.
Now I begin the process of letting go of the school year. It takes me awhile to actually relax and stop thinking about school. After all, as I write this, it’s 6 am on a Saturday morning. I’m thinking about all of the stuff I need to do for next year, the stuff that I didn’t get around to doing this year, and then some. I need to email the counselors about a gang banger type of kid who is great at math and needs to be registered for the advanced classes. I need to tell a counselor about a student that basically missed 5th grade and can’t add, subtract, multiply or divide the simplest problems in her head. She’s taking summer school, and it would be very helpful for the teacher to know this tidbit of information. And the list goes on.
It will take me a few weeks before I stop automatically waking up at 5:30am. I usually don’t feel rested until the 4th of July. At that point, I start to feel like I want to be a productive human being again. The thing is, as a teacher, you are always working. You can’t just leave it and go home. You bring papers home, you’re thinking of ways to present a lesson. How can you teach something in a different way so they understand? You can’t turn off the teacher just because you walk out of the building.
So in general, I spend the month of June turning off the teacher in me. July is usually a pretty good month. And August is when I start turning the teacher on. The longer I teach, the later I can delay this process. It used to start at the beginning of August. Now I wait pretty much until workshop week to get myself psyched up for another year.
So now I’ll start day one of vacation. It’s here, but it doesn’t seem real. Yet.