Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teacher Brain: The Weekly School Year

Hubby has had this system in his head since he was himself a student. Hubby also insists I've done this post before. But we all know artificial sweeteners ruin your memory. We have since adapted it to the teacher mindset and lifestyle. Our theory:
The year, in particular, the school year, can be superimposed over a regular Monday to Sunday week, and each yearly section lines up coincidentally with its corresponding day. 

*Disclaimer: Just as some days seem to drrrraaaaag on indefinitely and other fly by, each day of the School Year Week is not necessarily equal in length.* 

The entire month of August
Because you're still off, there's still freedom, but September is there... looming in the distance, like a coming Monday on a Sunday afternoon. August also feels busier, unlike a lazy Saturday.
On Sunday you possibly have church, family visits, and house-cleaning to do before the workweek begins.  And let's not forget homework. Yes, I am referring to teacher homework. Teaching is one of those professions that follows you home whether you like it or not. In August, many of us go on vacation, try to fit in cleaning and household projects, and basically attempt to cram in any more summer fun we can before September. The homework aspect? By the 3rd week of August, Bob and I get itchy to get our butts into school and make sure everything is ready and rarin'. He actually goes all summer.  I am not so crazy.
I know my time will come, just like the 5:30 AM alarm on a dreary...

All of September and October
Already this doesn't quite work out in my case, because I love back-to-school.
When it's actually time for back-to-school. In September. Not in July, thankyouvermuch, Target and Walmart. The clean, fresh-start feel of a new school year, like those new clothes and shiny new sneakers on my little students' feet, almost makes up for the cramped feel of being inside 8 hours straight. Kind of like children's feet in brand-new, stiff sneakers, when those toes have lived in flip-flops all summer.
It is So. Darn. Hard. to say goodbye to summer. Yeah, yeah, most people get 2 weeks off, lazy teachers, must be nice to play with kids all day and then have summers off, blah blah...YES, uninformed ignoramus who could have become a teacher if you'd wanted to but thank God you didn't cause look at your terrible attitude... Yes, it IS nice.
Then, there's October which is loooooooong too. There are Halloween assemblies and sugar-fueled meltdowns at home and at school. It's a long haul until...

November and December
Tuesdays I never minded much.  The sting of Monday has worn off, and I always seemed to have good classes on Tuesdays.  Much in the way Tuesday is an easier bite to swallow than Monday, November and December have new promise of fun, and some free time for you and the family. Speaking of bites...
Mmm, Thanksgiving Cake. 

When I first started teaching in New Jersey, I looked at the calendar for November and thought, "You're kidding me, right?"
NJEA conferences take two days, conferences in my district take more, then there's Thanksgiving, etc. School? No no, we don't do school regularly this time of year. School has only partial custody of us in November.
Or you could be a music teacher and have a concert to get on stage and find those interruptions maddening as they screw with your rehearsal schedule and black out dress rehearsal possibilities. Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, shoot me in the head...

I hate January and February. And most of March.  Most teachers do.
As Music teachers, the only good thing about the New Year is the lovely break from concert-crunch time, as your holiday concert is over and your spring concert is still months away.  There are a few minor holidays to break the monotony. Valentine's is nice if you're in the 7 and under set and still have class parties. Oh, and those snowdays are sweeeeet.  But Wednesday, in my experience, just draaaaaags mercilessly on.  In one of the best, more obscure kids' books, Meg's World by John Kollock, 4 year-old Meg explains, "Wednesday is nothing. Maybe somebody should invent something for Wednesday. Like a game or a long nap."  I think the same would apply for January and February.
But on the other side of March is Spring break (and Wednesday), we begin to take a turn.
Or so we think.

End of March, April.
Late March is such a tease. We staple up construction paper flowers and tack up "Signs of Spring" bulletin boards in the hallway...while we trudge through parking lots in freezing rain. Around here, anyway. April is really the beginning of a slight downward slope. Very slight. It's concert time. 
In our family, when concerts are done, you can start to think about maybe starting to consider relaxing. Later. You of course take a day to breathe and then start planning for next year, but the tie around your neck starts loosening. Or you could be like my husband, who goes to school dressed formally until April and then decides every year by late April that ties are "impractical". BUT you're not done yet.  There are performance field trips to take, state-mandated testing for the school to crunch for. On Thursday you still have the Little Engine That Could mentality (or not), chuggin' on through the week, but there's a light at the end of the train tunnel... and that light is called:

May and JUNE! 
*Gasp!* It's almost here! Cue that insidious Rebecca Black song! Classes go on the fun field trips!  Dress codes slacken and flip-flops are (sort of) acceptable!

And then, for us, there's the family picnic.

I usually do my dance unit, and the younger kids have class out under the trees in their little circles with their little glockenspiels, and OH! summer (the weekend) is just ahead, God is in Heaven and all is right with the world.  The end of June is especially sweet because there's the promise of two beautiful, yet-untouched months of freedom stretching out before you.
Ditto for the happy musings of a Saturday and Sunday ahead of you, from your place on the couch, Friday night.

July is Saturday, unquestioned. So open and full of possibilities, you can't conceive of it ever ending.
Bring bathing suit, add water, repeat.

But *sniff!* it does have an end.

Because then we're back to Sunday
Er, I mean, August.
And that's where we are now.  Judging from the August calendar, it's probably late afternoon on a Sunday, too. There are a bunch more tasks to be done, things needing to be checked off the list before school starts. During the school year I find better uses for my free time than cleaning, without serious need, let's put it that way.
I actually think my hubby and I have a now-or-never attitude in late August, and I also think that's it's completely unnecessary; as if we do nothing but school and sleep during the "work week" of the year. We have a nice life year-round. But OH, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer... sweet like a Saturday.

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