Tuesday, August 30, 2011

back to school musings--again

I've been indulging in reading blogs this morning, since I've been up since an ungodly hour.  Soon I won't have time for blogging much.  I've been reading the blogs of mamas who are either celebrating or lamenting the beginning of the school year.  It's an interesting exercise, reading both sides of the equation.

Many mamas are struggling with sending their kids off to school, and there are many comments about desiring to homeschool.  These moms are heartsick about being away from their little one for the whole day, and often it's everyday.  I'm a teacher, but I understand that sentiment.  When you have spent day in and day out with this little person, and you treasure your discoveries and learning together, sheltered from the world, the thought of sending them out into that world is daunting.  And rightfully so.  The truth is that they are going to learn lessons from others (adult and child) that are undesirable to you.  But it does provide opportunities for discussion and learning.  Eventually we all have to go out into the world, and cope.  Having had the opportunity to teach your values and strategies for dealing with the world is priceless.

On the other hand are the mamas who are doing cartwheels and singing, "it's the most wonderful time of the world".  If you are not used to so much time with your kiddos, and it's been a long summer of "I'm bored."  and listening to sibling battles, then I guess you are ready for them to go back to school.  And I'm looking forward to spending my days with the ones that I'm lucky enough to have in my class.  I am concerned though, that children are getting the message that their parents don't want to be with them.  I do not judge, but caution that you let them know that yes, you are ready for them to go back because it's healthy for them, but also that you love them and will miss them.  I'm ready for my big kids to go back too, but I don't want them to think I want to get rid of them.  I think we adults forget how fragile kids can be, and I know I don't want hurt feelings about school to be a defining moment or memory for them.

And I'll admit I've been kind of whining about not wanting to go back to school yet (maybe really whining?).  It's not the kids I'm not looking forward to, it's the busy-ness of life that I'm not looking forward to, and the constant need to be "on".  It's what kids deserve.  My students deserve the best of me.  It's what I strive to give them every day.  But it takes enormous energy, and my own family sometimes suffers for it.  At the end of the day, I'm depleted.  I still have work to do for school that I take home, but I have my own kids sports, activities and things to get to, as well as helping with homework, signing papers and trying to fit in a little laundry, supper and getting ready for the next day.  I most days, collapse into bed exhausted, and feeling guilty about not having enough patience and energy for my own family.  And then all too soon it's time to do it over again.

I'm not asking for pity, only understanding.  Understand that when I'm doing the very best I can by a child, and the parents come in guns a blazin', or send a snarky note, it is difficult.  It sucks away my energy.  Understand that I too have a family, and I'm trying to give everyone the best of me.  And I love doing it, but I'm not perfect.  I am human and I am fallible.  

I love my job.  I don't have a doubt in the world that this is what was intended for me.  Education is a calling.  And I have been called.  But I still wish summer was just a little longer, that there were more long weekends, and our holidays were more often.  Not because I'm lazy, but because it would give me more time to recharge myself.  And I would be able to be better for everyone.  

I realize that probably those that read my blog are not the audience that needs to hear what I'm about to say next.  I'm not trying to be political.  I'm just putting it out there.  Really I'm writing it for me, because I need to say it somewhere.  So here goes:  Please don't badmouth teachers in front of your kids.  Your kids need to be able to demonstrate respect to the adults at school, and feeling that their parents will back disrespect is only going to make it more difficult for them.  Please don't tell teachers (or anyone else for that matter) that what we do isn't real work.  It is.  Just demonstrating patience all day long is work.  We only have students from about 9-3:30, but I don't know a single teacher who doesn't do hours of work before and after school.  Don't assume because we aren't at school that we aren't doing work.  If we stayed at work until it was all done, we would never see our families, we bring it home with us.  Recognize that our summers are often filled with courses and workshops.  How many other professions spend their holidays taking courses to improve their practice?  For that matter, how many jobs have situations in which you can't use the washroom when you need to?  I can't walk away from a room full of kids just because I have to pee.  No matter how badly.  Please be respectful of our breaks.  We get one "uninterrupted" 40 minute lunch (it's in quotation marks, because invariably it is interrupted several times by students who need us, just like when they need their parents at home).  By the time students are settled, 10 minutes are eaten away.  When we are stopped in the hallway for a "quick question" we often miss our opportunity to eat and use the washroom.  I want to have that conversation, but we need to set up a time.  I appear rude, and you could be offended if I can't talk on the spur of the moment.  I need to eat, I can't be an effective and cheery teacher if my stomach is growling and my blood sugar is bottomed out.  Realize that I want to work with you.  You know your child best, I know educational methods and the curriculum, it is best for your child if we work together.  We won't always agree, but I know you want what you feel is best for your child.  So do I, even if it is totally different from your idea.  If we work together, we will come up with the best plan for your child.

Okay, I'm done.  Thank you for the opportunity to put it out there.  I hope if it didn't interest you that you skipped over it.  That's fine with me.  Now I can face the school community and not say it when it would be better left unsaid.  You know that human fallibility thing??  It could get me into real trouble some day!

Those are my back to school musings for today.  As the day approaches there will be more.  And the few days before my oldest chick goes to university?  Oh my.

It's now light enough to go for my run.  Have a wonderful Tuesday.

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