The mourning of Winter Break has set in

So, I have this ritual each year before Winter Break. I clean my classroom, to rid it of the viruses that cause scary maladies. I inhale the fresh Clorox and Virex as I scan the pristine room.    I walk out the door and look back at my clean classroom, bidding it farewell until the new year. It seems like it will be an eternity before I return. I believe I exit in slow motion as the door gently shuts behind me.

Let’s see, I have three weekends, and roughly 17 days I can sleep in. I must make the most of my time off. I’m going to make cookies, lots of them. We will sing around the tree. I’ll finish writing my book and submit 5 query letters. I’m going to lesson-plan for the next six weeks. I’ll finish reading 6 novels. I will not go into debt shopping and I’ll run 5 miles a day. I’ll cook real meals with ingredients that don’t have to be thawed. I’ll have a conversation with someone that does not relate to school in any way. I’ll take up knitting and make hand-made presents for everyone!

Well, the first week passes quickly because I was not prepared for the holiday. My obsession with a white Christmas tree obliterated the rest of the daily plans. There are royal blue poinsettias and feathers donning the artificial white pine. It glows magically as I walk by. Although I slip off of a chair in my UGGS decorating the tree, it was all worth the toil. Macy’s will want this tree! Then I realize that I must have wrapping paper to match the color theme. Off I go to Target, again. The tree is done but there are no cookies. What lesson plans?

Christmas day arrives. After I make vanilla scones, eggs, and potatoes,I sit on my sofa, reading THE HUNGER GAMES. The snow falls gently. I know this because I have positioned myself on the couch facing the window to our deck. Nope! Not leaving the house for any reason today. Suddenly, a flash of my pristine classroom flits by my mind. ERASE! NO! My room is so far away and no one is at the school today…or are they?  This is the beginning of a new diagnosis that teachers face. It is preparation paranoia. It is the fear that others are working at the school when you are not.

It is now the day after Christmas. My white tree is mocking me. It stares at me with those gigantic poinsettia eyes. It is still glowing but suddenly seems like an intruder. Christmas is over. But wait! There is New Year’s! I’ll make lasagna and have people over. That will surely rid me of the grief that is wrapping itself around me and flicking me on the head. I’ll start lesson plans tomorrow. Oh, I bought Tollhouse cookies. I’ll make those tomorrow while I lesson plan.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that the sheer lamenting over Winter Break ending has in effect, ended it. Well, I have five more mornings to sleep in.

January. That is all I have to say and people grunt, moan, and their postures suddenly slump. For the teacher January means the following:

  • CRCT madness
  • Writing Test Preparation for 5th grade
  • Being cold all of the time
  • Student amnesia
  • Hearing ourselves say, “But do you remember we did this before the break?”
  • A sudden but inexplicable count down to Spring Break

So, as the overachiever and teacher in denial, I will most likely plan some huge activity that will whisk us away from the January doldrums. The stress this brings will make my distant memories of Winter break dissolve like cotton candy. We will make memories and have fun and I will not think about sitting on the green couch, reading, and watching the elegant snow fall.

I’ll finish my book during Spring Break. I’ll make Easter cookies and we will sing around the Easter bunny. We will frolic in the Spring air as we count our days to Summer vacation.

k

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2011-A new year of teaching

I have been inspired to begin this blog in order to reach out to other educators who guzzle coffee, keep all hours planning, and sacrifice time to be a relevant presence in the classroom. Maybe this can be a place for lesson ideas-failures and successes. Of course, there will be discussions of kids vomiting on us and random lice checks.  I find that without the humor of the job, it can be quite a dark place that I often compare to Dante’s Inferno. I just wonder which level he would put us? I spent 4 years studying Italian; one of which was in Inferno. So, many of my DANTE references are part of my literary DNA. There may also be some Shakespearian analogies. It would be impossible to blog about education without these inspirations.

I have been in education for 10 years. Maybe this is the catalyst for my interest in blogging. I also feel that my middle-aged status puts me in a place where I feel what I say and feel has more validity than it did ten years ago. This is not to say that I do not second guess each and every move I make in front of all of those little faces. I’m just not sure that the “non-educator” has any clue what we do every day. If you think about it, education is one area in which most people North America have experience. Either they attended school, have children in school, or are part of the misunderstood world of education.

The title of the blog came to me during the days where I wish I were a mere few words or numbers sporadically scrawled on a dry-erase board. These characters are easily erased and re-written. As a teacher, we are continually erasing what we do and “re-writing” the plan. Some days, I wish that I could seek refuge under my desk with the lights out. I haven’t done this, yet. The funny thing is that I think most of my friends in the school would know where I am trapped.  The search and rescue team would find me clasping a mug of coffee in one hand and my new progressive glasses clutched in the other. I would be buried under an avalanche of colorful pens, sticky notes, and rubrics. I would surely be muttering something about my lesson plans not being color coded and the fact that I didn’t get lunch count in on time.

The thing is that with most passionate teachers, we LOVE what we do. The fascination of how those minds work mixed with the onus of being responsible for reaching each child can be enough to keep us up at night. When a lesson goes bad, it is like a stale comedian drowning. We need to know when to stop and quit beating the rotting horse. The comatose stares are usually a clue that a new plan is in order. We need to know when to re-group and lose all of our pride. I assure you that as soon as we feel that we have done a good job, something will smack us back to reality.

I have been very lucky to have had amazing parents and administrators who have been part of the community necessary to “raise a class” each year. I have had powerful mentors and other teacher friends who took me under their wings.

This blog is not meant to be a complaint forum or a place where we discuss specific children, since we must honor confidentiality. If you are a teacher, what are your hopes, dreams, or concerns? Are you planning on a big project? What gets you out of bed on a cold, Monday morning to go to work?

K