I would like to start off by noting two important things.
- “End of the year teacher tired” really is a thing.
- Without coffee, said EOTYTT would be a whole lot uglier.
My thoughts over the years on this matter have evolved quite a bit. Truth be told, I can get rather defensive on this topic, actually. You see, there are a lot of people who think the 3 months (which is technically 2 and some change) that we teachers have off in the summer months is a free for all. This is absolutely 154% not true. For onesies, a contracted teacher work day is from 8 a.m. to 3:15. Sure, there are days when I jet out of there because I have children of my own to get to sports practices or other extra curriculars. But there are also days that I stay till 5:00 – cleaning up glue and glitter and mayhem that room full of 24 kindergarteners can leave behind. Or days that I sit at my desk and plow through the paperwork end of the job that seems to be in high demand these days. Or there’s that blessed thought of ‘I’ll just take some of this home’. I’d love to know how many professional individuals spend their evenings on the couch doing double duty as parent and employee until bed time.
This is not the fault of my administrators. I get it that the torch of blame can be passed much higher up the echelons. We’re all being told to produce champagne worthy performances on a shoe-string budget. And then throw in the teaching part. It’s like a side-job. Pardon my sarcasm. The kids. You know. Those important living, breathing human things that blink and look at you and need love and knowledge and strategies in order to pass those standardized test things that they’re developing high anxiety over. Don’t forget the ones that need extra love. The ones whom you wish you could take home and raise yourself. The ones you lose sleep over because they are dealing with life trauma. You, the teacher, are the eternal empathizer. You hurt when they hurt. When they build chair walls around themselves to keep ‘bad people’ away, you sit up at night thinking about them and bite all your fingernails off.
Also, pardon my run on sentences. When I get the feels about something I tend to add a lot of “and”s.
So, Mr. Politician Sir, I invite you with the crook of my finger to come spend a semester, a month, a week even in our worlds. It would be joyous for myself and my colleagues to sit in the peanut gallery and watch as you maneuver the waters of not only holding short attention spans in overcrowded classrooms, but try pouring exorbitant amounts of knowledge into every single little darling head. Knowledge that will need retained to the point of regurgitation on a piece of paper that actually proves nothing. I’ve personally been a real good test taker for my whole life. (And if you knew me well enough, you’d know that was just said in a long slow, deliberate drawl.) It’s called short-term memory. I aced my way through a lot of courses by storing it somewhere in this little brain where I could dump it out later.
While you are there assuming a teacher role, sir, please note that there is little to no time for eating or chit chat in your work day. Most of your ‘down time’ will be spent planning and prepping what’s to come the following week or the following day. Also, those kids of yours with emotional disorders – I believe the new and awful legal term is ‘Emotional Disturbance’ – those kids don’t generally qualify for extra services according to IDEA. At least not based on the ‘disturbance’ alone. IDEA is the acronym for your shiny federal guidelines at work. So, we’ll all just suck a lot of air in through our teeth over here in the peanut gallery and drink our coffee real slow like and give you our opinions. We sure hope you’re likable and have good friends within those four walls who want to help you.
Oh, and don’t forget, we’ll be evaluating your performance based on how well your students score on a test. Yes, even the ones who came to school with little to no nutrition or sleep. Even the ones who tear up at the word “test”. It may determine your rate of pay for the following 365 days and potentially cause a lot of hard feelings in your building. We hope you have a lot in savings, too. You’ll be spending a lot of your own money on things.
Now, let’s handshake and share toothy grins!
The good news is that those of us actually in this profession love children. End of story. And we love what we do and the lives we impact on a daily basis. The reality is that most politicians and their opinions wouldn’t last a single day in our shoes. Although it would be terribly fun to watch, people who want to come in and tell us how to do things don’t deserve 10 minutes in my classroom. They don’t deserve the joy I get by watching a child start the year with no letter knowledge and leave my room reading sentences fluently. They don’t deserve the hugs or the high fives or the ecstatic thrill of being a part of a little person’s “A-HA!!” moment.
I will wholeheartedly take that joy and all of the work that comes with it. So, yes – end of the year teacher tired is a thing. And I will be spending several hours a week in my classroom in June and July. I might take a class or two. I will be reading books for fun, but also books on how to better myself in my profession. I may even prep things for next year so that EOTYTT is a little less so. I will also sit out on my deck in the sunshine, enjoy my own kids without time constraints, and drink coffee because I like it.