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A Teacher's Summer Vacation

(Sorry, I'm a big HP fan.)

As a retired teacher and principal, I get a little annoyed at times with what's going on in our country when it comes to attitudes towards teachers and education. I say annoyed because if I was still teaching I'd be miffed, perturbed, or maybe even angry. Ok, I admit it. I really am each of those. However, I know I'm not going to change anyone's mind about teaching just by spouting off so, instead, I'm just going to share what I did during the summer when I was teaching. I'll even throw in a couple of stories as a bonus.

First, you have to understand that when I packed up my classroom at the end of the previous year I put just about everything away neatly so I could get to my stuff when I came in to set up my classroom for the new school year. I say "just about everything" because when I got to the top of my desk, I just opened drawers and pushed everything inside. Then I loaded my car with things I might need over the summer or was afraid they'd "disappear" if I left them.

Over the summer, I came in to school for one of two reasons. Either I was in for curriculum work, for which I sometimes got paid, or I was in to begin setting up my classroom, for which I never got paid. I have to admit that even after doing this for over twenty years, I really enjoyed getting my room ready. There were desks to arrange, supplies to unpack, bulletin boards to put up, and so on. There were also mini "adventures", such as having to climb in and out the window because the hall floors had been waxed and that time that the step ladder I was on to put something up collapsed and I dropped to the floor like the coyote in the old road runner cartoons. These tasks may seem easy or appear to take up very little time, but even a decision about arranging desks had to be a very thought out process. I also ran in to teacher friends so there was also catching up to do. Anyway, I probably was in school for eight to ten days over the summer getting my room ready. Certainly not the whole summer, but still a good amount.

As a principal, it was different. I was in most of the summer (I actually had to wear pants, but not necessarily a tie) and it was mostly to plan, have meetings I didn't want to go to, speak with parents about their child's classroom, etc. As for seeing teachers, many stopped in just to say hi or to meet with me about something. I do remember teachers being in a lot and, no, they weren't paid.

I also remember two teachers specifically. One was outside in the parking lot with her boyfriend and they were painting bookcases that were going into her classroom. The other was in tears when she was told that the school would be locked and she couldn't get in to work on her room over the Labor Day weekend. We decided to open it anyway.


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