I was with two teachers this weekend, both of whom I love dearly, and both of whom took about five minutes to tell me exactly how many days were left until summer vacation.
I do understand how difficult and grinding a year of teaching can be. I know that, especially if you are faced with one of those challenging classes or courses, it can be helpful to remember that the situation won’t be forever. One of the best parts of the job is the extra new year we get each August when we get to feel rejuvinated and inspired to be the best we can. Again.
At this point in the year, we’re all tired, the students are antsy, the weather beckons us to the beach. We have to deal with college acceptance, college rejection, graduation, kids who won’t graduate, spring fever, senior-itis, exams, missing books. And did I mention the kids are antsy?
But, please, no matter how much you are looking forward to a well-deserved break, stop the countdown. If you need to cross off days in your diary, or keep a count on your fridge, feel free, but please spare the rest of us – especially your students. Imagine the students coming in every day and being reminded by your words and your numbers that you are just counting the days until you don’t have to be there any more. Until you and they don’t have to suffer any more. Until the agony can end. If you are so excited to be done with it, how can you blame them for being unmotivated and unfocused? All I can think of is the prisoners of war making hashmarks on their walls to document the days of suffering.
If you have to keep track, maybe you can do so in an “I’m so sorry we only have 43 days left to learn about history together,” kind of way. Or, “we’ve been struggling to answer our essential question for 107 days – how are we coming?” Think of the different attitude you might engender. Days of engaged learning are precious enough. Don’t demean them by counting your blessings at seeing them gone.