The "End of the Year"

Being a teacher, I am perpetually on an American academic year. To me, years are marked by school, and not as much by January 1st. The end of the school year is always a time marked by the anticipation of a nice long break, the stress of managing 120 students who are also anticipating a nice long break while keeping them motivated (and keeping myself motivated), and the anxiety of not quite knowing what to do with the summer.

I always feel guilty for not working during the summer, but each year a lack of motivation and a job that will bend to my schedule works against my half-haearted goal of a part-time job. This year, for example, I was hell-bent on working to make some extra money, but as my summer schedule becomes clear, that becomes difficult. I have classes for much of June (teachers must stay up on things after all), and my wife and I want some time off in early July. I can't imagine too many places that would be willing to hire me with such limited availability.

Of course, I do also enjoy the time off, but after I get rested and relaxed, the last half of July starts to drag and I am bored during much of August. By the time school nears again, I am ready to go back. Most people say how lucky I am to have that time, and I am, but I think humans need to be reasonably occupied most of the time. Of course, I never seem to accomplish all those goals I set for myself at the start of summer, like the fabulous lesson planning with a dated syllabus for the next year, or that novel on which I keep meaning to work, or those guitar lessons I want to start. I do keep getting a little better each summer, but it's slow going.

A couple of my eighth graders almost died today. These boys haven't exactly been the picture of good behavior this year anyway, and now that the end is near for them, they are really pushing their limits. The sounds of flatulence during a test, and constant giggling at inappropriate times try my patience and judgement. I have to remind myself how they must be absolutely dying to get out of school, and that Lincoln's disciplining of Gen. McClellan is far from their thoughts of girls and a summer at the pool. Of course, fart sounds are always funny as well, which makes it all the more difficult. But I also don't want to allow a few bad apples to spoil the experience of the final days of eighth grade for all my students. The point is that by the end of the year, I will be ready for a break, because no matter how I handle my current crop of misbehaving kids, it'll wear me out.

Then of course, there's the kids you wish you could keep another year, just to see how they continue to grow intellectually. As a teacher I am so proud of them and happy to see them move on to new and better things, to a world of more opportunity, but I am also saddened to know that I won't get to teach them again. I guess no matter what, it's just the end of another long (or short) year.


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