Today I am happy to be a teacher.
I know what you're thinking. Of course she's happy to be a teacher. DUH! It's June! What teacher isn't happy to be one in June? Wish I got three months of vacation to sit back, relax, and enjoy summer! Want the truth? By the beginning of June, I am emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. By the beginning of June, my morning coffee consumption is double what it was in September. By the beginning of June, the natives are restless, and my patience is starting to wear thin. But June is one of my favorite times to be an educator, and the reasons why may surprise you.
I would be a liar if I refused to admit that I look forward to having some time off during the summer months. I love the fact that the school year calendar gives me and my colleagues a few weeks to recharge our batteries, to renew our enthusiasm, to take part in classes that allow us to earn some of the credits required to renew our teaching certificates, and to work on classroom projects that we may not have time for during the school year. I enjoy having a family schedule that is less hectic and harried and that allows us to do some of the things that we simply don't have time for during the school year. I treasure the extra time I get to enjoy with my husband and our boys. I take some time to read books that are written for adults and that do not have titles like Action Research: A Guide for Library Media Specialists or Pyramid Response to Intervention: RTI, Professional Learning Communities, and How to Respond When Kids Don't Learn, and I don't feel guilty about it. (For the record, those are both books that have been valuable reads for me professionally, but sometimes I just want to read some Janet Evanovich or some fluff about sexy vampires and hot werewolves with exceptionally ripped abs. Is that so wrong?) I especially enjoy the fact that my alarm clock is not screaming in my ear at every day at 5:00 AM.
Even if it were not the start of an extended break, June would still be one of my favorite times to be a teacher. Why?
In June, I have a moment to catch my breath and consider what I can do to be more effective next year.
In June, my colleagues and I have the opportunity to reflect on the school year, to revisit some of the challenges we faced, and to celebrate some of the victories we experienced with kids. This always leaves me teary and excited to come back in August.
In June, I get to spend a week on a trip with soon-to-be high school freshmen, seeing the wonder in their eyes as they visit new places, hearing their laughter as they enjoy time with friends, and getting to know them as individuals outside of the school setting.
In June, I get to attend 8th grade recognition and see students who came into our building as awkward and needy little kids leave as confident and charming young adults.
In June, I hear thanks from parents who realize that they are not the only ones who have poured their hearts and souls into helping their children be successful academically or socially.
In June, I am the recipient of tearful hugs from kids whose lives I have touched and I get to hear, "I'll miss you" from kids I didn't think really cared whether I was there or not.
In June, I know that I have made a difference, and that is the most meaningful reward a teacher can receive.