Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summers in the Education Family

I am a 4th generation educator in our state, and I've given birth to two 5th generation educators. They remember going back-to-school shopping with my mom before they were even in school. As she was shopping for her classroom, they would be treated to cute pencils and folders. (Part of the reason they became teachers? They played school almost every day of their childhood!)

When my daughters and I were all three classroom teachers, we had a system for back-to-school work. We would spend one day working in each of our classrooms.  Day #1 would be in my oldest daughter's high school room.  Day #2 would be spent in my high school English room, and Day #3 would be spent in my youngest daughter's 1st grade room. We'd work, go out for lunch, and laugh a lot.

They taught me to use fabric to cover my bulletin board.  (It doesn't fade like paper does.) At one time, all three of us had the same bulletin board: Starbooks Cafe, imitating a favorite coffee design. I even made a cafe curtain to go over the top of the bulletin board. (I just pitched my faded bulletin board last year. Sadness! It was a favorite.)

Working together this way, I figured out quickly that high school teachers have it made.  Elementary teachers spend hours working on their rooms.  High school teachers do quite a bit less. (My oldest daughter and I would be done with our rooms, and my youngest daughter would spend 5-7 more days working on her room.) The year after a tornado wiped out our schools, I spent hours working on my classroom trailer. For over a week I went to work before breakfast, and frequently my husband brought me supper and helped me work until well after dark.  Finally, I had some idea of what our elementary teachers do almost every year.

My oldest daughter is now my principal/boss. Decorating her office is not a group project. So now, I usually spend two days helping my youngest daughter with her elementary school classroom.  She lives several hours away so this is Mom-Daughter bonding time. Two full days in her classroom makes a small dent in her work, but she will still have quite a bit to do.

This summer I have spent quite a bit of time switching classrooms and decorating the new room.  My youngest daughter is switching schools and grade levels, so she has a new classroom to decorate and organize, too. Unfortunately, her new school had a land shift or sinkhole that postponed teachers getting into the school.  She is just now able to get into her school and is feeling several weeks behind.  Much of the time she would have worked during the first week of August will be spent at new teacher meetings in this new district. Fortunately, I started my room early and am pretty much done. Now as I'm working on her room, I won't be worrying about mine. (Oh, and both girls gave me fits about working at school too much.  I feel like a genius now!)

I will spend the next two days working on a first grade classroom, and getting to know my daughter's new school.  I love the creativity of elementary teachers. I frequently pick up new ideas.Their ingenious ideas inspire me.

You know those coffee mugs and t-shirts that say:  The three best reasons to be a teacher? June, July, and August.  I have always hated them.

Don't get me wrong, I love summer; however, education is a year-round job. Excellence in the classroom doesn't really allow for a three-month vacation. Who am I kidding?  Even "adequate" in the classroom doesn't allow for three months with no thought of our classrooms.  I take a few weeks off and some long weekends, but I've seen several colleagues and most of the coaches in school on a fairly regular basis this summer.  That is probably a pretty good indicator of a great 2015-2016.

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