“There are three good reasons to be a teacher: June, July and August.”
This quote from an unknown author doesn’t seem to hold much water these days considering how early school starts and how short summer has become.
The catchy commercials have been running for weeks, the supply lists are prominently displayed in stores near the aisles of pens, pencils and paper, and kids are begging for a new pair of Jordans. It must mean the bells will be ringing and the buses rolling soon.
As a teacher, I look forward to the time when the dog days of August roll around and I can see summer in the rearview mirror. Seriously, I have no problem when the summer comes to an end. Surely I will miss the freedom of summer, but back to school is an amazing time.
I love my job. I love being a teacher. I love watching students grow and start down a path to the adults they will become. There are difficult and challenging parts of my job, but they pale in comparison to the feeling I get when a student achieves success.
When school starts this year, nearly every parent of a school-aged child in America will post an Instagram photo of themselves jumping for joy behind depressed children with melancholy faces. It is illustrative of the difference of opinion parents and students have on returning to school.
So, as August creeps in and school seems nothing less than inevitable, I want to pass along some words of advice to my fellow teachers as well as parents and students.
Teachers: While this may be a stressful time, a time where we mourn the loss of the freedom of summer, let us not forget why we became teachers. We have the “back to school” jitters just as students do, and it’s because we love school more than we want to admit. I mean, we must have loved school so much we made school our life!
Start the year with a positive attitude. There will be trials and tribulations as the calendar progresses throughout the year, but we are preparing the future leaders of tomorrow and they are a reflection of our worth as educators.
Parents: Don’t be too excited that school is back in session. Yes, it’s a treat to be able to release your students to the school for seven-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week for the next nine months, but this time goes fast. Our children are only “kids” for so long. While my children are still very young, I can already see them growing up faster than I can handle, so soak in this time and hold it dear.
Also, be involved in your child’s school life. Talk with them, ask them how things are going, offer to help them, and be supportive. Just a small amount of encouragement and support will go a long way.
Students: I say the same thing to you as I did your parents: Take the time to let all of this sink in. You think you will be in school forever, but you won’t. Before you know it, you are graduating from high school and sent out on your own to start your life.
Take school seriously because your life will be easier in the future if you take a more difficult path now. Get involved in something not related to academics at school – a sport, the band, a play, a club, something. Don’t let this experience pass you by, take the reins, control your own future and enjoy the ride.
Education today has become a difficult profession. High-stakes, high-demands, government control and archaic regulations handcuff much of education.
But, we can’t complain because we have a job to do and our students aren’t getting any younger.
As teachers we have to take what we are given and work with it as best we can. Yes, the government wraps us in bureaucratic red tape that is seemingly impossible to navigate, but we have a job to do, regardless of what regulations we are saddled with. We have to continue to push forward because we have great influence on such a precious commodity – our children and their futures.
As parents and students, you have to work with what you are given as well, but you have to be willing to take ownership of your education. You might have the greatest teachers in the world, but if you don’t take education seriously, you will not be successful. Yes, there are going to be roadblocks, but you have to work past them to reach your goals.
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss and celebrate the short life of our dear friend, Summer Vacation 2014. We will always remember the good times by the lake, staying up late and sleeping in, watching TV all day, taking a road trip, taking the kids to the playground and just relaxing. We are going to miss our trusted friend, Summer Vacation 2014.
But we remember that with death comes life. With the end of summer vacation 2014 comes the beginning of a new school year, a new start and new experiences. While we mourn the loss of summer, we celebrate the coming life.
We will always have our memories, Summer Vacation 2014.
Jarrod Weiss lives in New Vienna and is a teacher in the Hillsboro City Schools district. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.