I am gainfully employed as a teacher. A middle school Language Arts Interventionist, to be exact. I am sad to report that my first day back to work this year is JULY 31, which is a dreadful turn of events.
I wept bitterly when I saw the school supply display go up in Target on July 8, much like my tears of disdain when I see Christmas decorations up before Halloween. This is proof to me that the world has gone mad. I, like my students, will do our work while staring wistfully out of the window at the lovely heat of Indiana, daydreaming about the pool that we all KNOW is still open for business.
When I was a kid, summer lasted pretty much from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I lived the heck out of summer - swimming, vacations, hanging out in my small town with friends, staying up late catching fireflies, and, when older, causing all sorts of mayhem. It would've been anathema to go back to school mere minutes after the 4th of July. I asked a few people I know why this trend seems to be taking hold, and the main answer I received was that the extra weeks of schooling early in the year are necessary for standardized test preparation, which is a much larger issue to me than a briefer than brief summer vacation. Since I heard this from more than one person in administrative positions, I have to think there is some validity to it. These tests are so pervasive, they are taking away precious summer memories from kids - and I'd argue that not one kid is focusing on test prep when their parents are still shooting off illegal fireworks every night.
Until the powers that be come to their senses, school in the dead middle of summer is inevitable, at least here in the Midwest. I have compiled the following list of ways to cope:
1. Denial. This is my main way of dealing with teaching when the days are long, hot, and lovely. Pretend that it's just some playacting. Make sure to get outside for a lot of extra "recess."
2. Realizing it could be worse. Sometimes, I forget that most adults do not get summer vacation. AT ALL. I still get about 7 weeks or so...
That's about all I've got. I know that lists are supposed to be at least 7 items, but I cannot muster 7 ways to cope with this clear disregard for the best season of the year and my personal need to suck the marrow out of it (paraphrasing the late Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society).
I did accomplish a lot this summer - maybe that's way 3 to cope! Reflection. I visited the amazing city of Malibu, CA, where I basked in the sun and came a stone's throw from Paul Rudd. I finished my first novel and convinced someone to publish it (more coming on that soon). I fulfilled my lifelong dream to try paddle boarding. I spent countless and precious hours with my children.
I am not quite ready for these lazy days to end. Being one of the few people who love heat, drought, and daylight savings time, I cherish these days. Please remind me of my coping list if you see me wandering, dazed and confused, through the school supply section, aimlessly collecting spiral notebooks along with my sunscreen.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.