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.

 

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I remember hearing the words so vividly growing up.  “She has such a pretty face.”  The first time I heard it, I wondered what the hell that was supposed to mean.  I ran to the nearest mirror to inspect.  What was wrong with the rest of me?  Sure, I was never going to break any records on being tall or svelte.  I am rather on the short side. But, I had curves in good places.  That comment sounded so specific and sad.  I wasn’t sad.  At least up until that point.  Then I started overanalyzing.  I mean, if someone else is commenting on my shape with a hint of melancholy in their voice, clearly I should be concerned.  Right? This is exactly the type of comment that activates “the lie”.

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Remember being 21 and feeling like you were fat? And now you wish you were that “fat” again. Irony.

The lie is something we buy into, usually as teenagers.  It’s the poison apple that sends young girls into the downward spiral.  All along the way we’re seeing these images that slowly embed themselves into our brains.  Scantily clad, winged models with angel faces torment our self-esteem.  Mean girls and pimply, adolescent jerks stoke the fire as we learn to hate ourselves and believe the lie. This notion that skinnier is better.  Skinnier is smarter.  Skinnier means fitting in to the cool crowd.  Later in life we even buy into the tragic notion that skinnier means more qualified.  Comments like, “She would be so pretty if she just lost a little weight” continue to echo inside the caverns of our minds.

 

It’s no wonder the weight loss industry is one of the biggest money makers of the world.  Women everywhere have become desperate to downsize.  Literally. Smaller is better, right?  Smaller means we can feel good about ourselves again.  Size 2 means the world is going to accept me as a person! And so we starve ourselves.  We learn to compare our reflections to the airbrushed models in magazines.  We try the beauty tips, workout tricks, and fad diets to become less – in all senses of the word.  Sad.

 

What are we telling the younger generations?  I have a daughter at home.  She’s four, yet I’m already worrying about the day she comes home to tell me her feelings are hurt because someone commented on her size.  Or worse, what if she is one of the mean girls?  Do I want her buying into the parameters that society has set – that size 8 is considered “plus sized”?

 

Amy Schumer voiced aggravation recently about being called plus sized with good reason.  The last time I checked, a person wearing size 6-8 clothing is pretty darn normal.  Yet, the media continues to shove visual collar and hip bones down our throats as ‘stunning’.  To this Midwestern girl, those ladies just look hungry.   And unhealthy.   It burns me to know that my daughter may someday flip through a fashion magazine and aspire to be less – in all senses of the word.

 

So in lieu of “the lie”, here’s the sad truth: We currently live in a society that teaches young girls that our physical size trumps our accomplishments nine times out of ten. Women specifically are being held to an unfair standard.  We are letting society dictate our self-worth based on our size.  You don’t see too many statistics or reports on men suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia.  In most cases, these issues haunt women.  How many times have you heard of a male “plus sized” model making news headlines?  Never.  But, just try Googling Ashley Graham.  You’ll see more about her size online than you will about her as a person or the fact that she is a highly successful, drop dead gorgeous model.

 

The bottom line is this.  We need to stop feeding the lie.   Skinnier does not equate to better.   And our current standards for what is a healthy and average weight are terribly skewed. The sooner we rectify this belief, the sooner our young girls will get back to worrying about more important things than their appearance.  Like how powerful and influential a woman with a strong sense self-worth can be.

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You know that old cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”?  I think in some creative avenues that is probably true.  To understand joy in a thorough sense it must be seen.  I think the same is true for most emotions and major life events.   My grandfather understood this very well.  I like to think that he was somewhat ahead of his time in many ways.  Upon being drafted for the war back in the 1940s, he only asked for one small thing from his parents:  a collapsible camera.  He knew he was about to embark on something big and he wanted to remember it.  He was the only one he ever remembered seeing with a camera, aside from the press like when Bob Hope came to boost morale.  (I have pictures of that, by the way.)  Fast forward 70 years later and here I am.  A girl blessed with 3 full scrapbooks of life in the South Pacific during World War II.   He would send film back every month to his dad.  And his dad, in return, would send him new film.  Of course, many pictures were censored and discarded by the government before they made it to Brazil, Indiana.  They were deemed inappropriate.  Grumble grumble.  I suppose as a military policeman of the time he saw and had to do things that the government didn’t think his parents or the world needed to see.  But, many made it home.   So this was the start of many blessings.  My sister and I grew up with his stories, his pictures, and his memorabilia.  Don’t worry.  I plan on sharing these someday.   I just haven’t quite put all those ducks in a row yet.

 

And then you had my grandmother.  Small town girl with big dreams and artsy flair.  She was tiny.  About my height.  Heh.  But she never allowed that, or the idea that most women of those times should be homemakers, stop her.  She also understood that pictures were worth a thousand words.  But, when she met my grandfather (post war time, long interesting story – don’t worry, will tell it too someday) and saw his photos, she decided that pictures will someday need words.  Everything needs words.  Because no one lives forever.  She had the foresight to know that without written stories, pictures lose meaning over the years.

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