I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret you probably never knew about teachers: Most of us look forward to the end of summer vacation.
It’s not that we don’t like a few weeks off to recharge our batteries. We get to catch up on all the happenings of the outside world we’ve been forced to ignore while focusing on how best to reach a very tricky demographic. It’s nice being able to devote energy to ourselves rather than saving most of it for our students. There’s something about being able to experience sunrises and sunsets in nature rather than catching glimpses through the reflection of classroom windows. It’s intoxicating to wander into a backyard filled with the aroma of sunflowers as a gentle wind rustles the trees.
It’s hard to trade in ice-cold lemonade for a travel mug of coffee; writing in the sand for writing on the Smartboard; sandals for dress shoes and sunblock for antibacterial soap. I’m not claiming we blindly trade the rolling of the waves against the beach for the mirthless drone of a staff meeting; the silent alarm of sunrise for the morning bells that begins class.
However, there are many reasons we gladly trade in our beach blankets for bags full of ungraded essays. Long Island Sound doesn’t compare to the ocean of possibility inside every classroom come September. No sunrise compares to the light that goes on for a struggling child as a new idea dawns. The myriad, unexpected joys that accompany each day in teaching pull us back to our classrooms stronger than any tide at the beach.
Ask any retired teacher. They’ll talk about the luxury of sleeping in, the glory of travel in October, and of having nights and weekends free from lesson planning or grading papers. Few of them will say they don’t miss working with kids. Many people outside the profession complain about the “younger generation” while others fear for it in a world that could produce this cycle’s set of presidential candidates. Teachers get to do something about it. We get to fight on the front lines to make sure our tomorrows are in good hands.
And they are.
I wish everyone could sit in on a staff meeting in August to see the palpable excitement in the air. The new school year probably means less time with our families, our friends and our hobbies, but this is what we do. Teaching is not merely a job, it’s a calling. There are difficulties, frustrations, and days we’ll look back on summer vacation with a longing we can taste, but we are made to touch the future. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.
There’s only one set of people who might be more excited than teachers to see the start of the school year.
Here’s to a great school year, folks. May all your backpacks be big enough, your buses arrive on time (except when you’re late), and your locker combinations easy to remember.