Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Year's End

Being a teacher makes for a weird sense of time and routine.  Beholden as I am to the school calendar, I find myself referring to "the end of the year" a lot these days.  This has made for interesting moments in conversations with people outside of the CAJ community: when I say I'm busy because the year is almost over, they look at me as though I'm insane, or at least temporally discombobulated.

Yet, it is undeniable that the end of the school-year has more literal significance to me than does the end of the calendar year.  The transition between 2011 and 2012, as with most other years (needless Y2K panic aside), was mostly symbolic.  Not much changes between December 31 and Jan. 1.  However, a lot can change between June and August.  Students grow and so do teachers.  I find that the opportunity for reflection, forward planning and learning that summer provides is precisely the kind of foundation that gives goal-setting traction.  New Year's Resolutions often fail, and I think part of that is because the process of setting resolutions is hastily done and lacks the care and thought that goes into summer planning for teachers on vacation. 

Some argue that this is too long of a vacation, too disruptive to student learning.  Perhaps this is true and perhaps American schools should reevaluate the length and structure of the school-year.  I'm not about to upset the apple-cart, though--I am ready for a vacation.  I spent roughly 16 hours of my weekend grading and then maybe 5 more hours over the past two days finishing up my grade-books.  I submitted my final grades earlier this afternoon and then promptly crashed in bed with a massive tension headache.  The nap helped, but I know that my body, mind and spirit are craving a longer rest.

So now, I transition.  I'll start thinking of the 2011-2012 school-year as "last year" and begin to consider the school-year as a whole (very tough to do in the moment when there are still immediate challenges to be dealt with and tasks to be accomplished).  That reflection will lead me to think through what I want to change, what I want to improve about my classes, what I need to add or subtract or practice to become a better teacher for my students.  I often feel a sense of purposelessness during the summer, but as each passing year ends, I am left with a clearer picture of my growth and my areas of need.  As this year has drawn to a close, I now commit my time of rest, reflection and growth to God.  May He grant me the wisdom and patience that I need to become who He wants me to be, both within and outside of the classroom.

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