Saturday, May 28, 2022

The School Year is Over

Yesterday was the last day of post-planning for me - I am now officially on summer vacation! At the end of every school year, I always experience such a range of emotions and feelings, primarily happiness and relief that it is all over. But as I reflect on these past two years, all I can really feel at the moment is, "Wow, I got through it. Yes, while the experience was very imperfect, I made it through." I cannot help but feel an incredible sense of accomplishment as I reflect on the sheer fact that I endured the storm. As I have stated before in this blog, one of the biggest things which I have learned about myself these past two years is just how resilient I am, since I have been stretched like I have never before.

So as we all begin to transition to summer vacation over the next month and experience time away from the classroom, my biggest piece of advice is this: Do something this summer which gives you joy and which has NOTHING to do with the classroom. Distance yourself from what defines you as a teacher. Normally I would say attend a conference, further your professional development, etc. But after these past two years of the pandemic, digital teaching, hybrid teaching, and transition back to face-to-face, more than ever I realize now that we as teachers need to heal and to remember who we are outside of the classroom. Use this summer to recharge and to heal.

My former college roommate once told me how he envied my professional career as a teacher in that my work calendar always has a definite beginning, middle, and end, while for most people, their career is a continuous series of projects with just two weeks off for vacation. I appreciate his comment more than ever now and recognize the wisdom in his statement.

As I am now beginning my summer vacation, I realize that for many of you, you still have a month left before the end of your school year and that the last thing you need to hear from me is that I am on break. Well, when I return back to work on July 25 for pre-planning, then you can tell me about how you still have a month left in your vacation!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Teaching while Burned Out during the End-of-the-Year

This time of the school is always difficult for teachers and students, because by this point, everyone is burned out. Even though I returned from Spring Break feeling incredibly rested, at the same time, the final 6.5 weeks is always a mess for everyone with standardized state testing, AP testing, senioritis, and just "not feeling it any more." By this point, students are so emotionally and mentally ready for final exams (probably not academically though), because they are simply tired of it all (we teachers feel the same way). It is difficult to lesson plan during this time, because as teachers, "the well has run dry" in terms of motivation. Everything now just seems to take a lot more effort to do, and if you have more than one prep, the burden just seems heavier.

I have two preps (thankfully), so to save my strength and mental bandwidth, my two preps are all doing the same activities on each day. While the readings may be different for each prep, the lessons themselves are the same. If my Latin 2 classes are doing a Read, Draw, and Discuss on Monday, then so are my Latin 3's. If my Latin 3's are doing on Thursday, then so are my Latin 2's. If my Latin 2's are doing a Movie Talk on Friday, then I am going to manipulate that same animated short so that I can do it with my Latin 3's too. This has made it so much easier for me these past few weeks, because then I feel like I am just planning for one prep.  

When I returned from Spring Break on April 11, I remember thinking, "We have 6.5 weeks left until the end of the school year. That is such a long time from now!" I remember telling my senior homeroom on that day, "The senior picnic and Prom are in 3 weeks," but inside saying to myself, "Oh my gosh, that seems so far away. It is going to take forever to get to those days." Fast forward to now - the senior picnic and Prom were last week, and in hindsight, I feel like those 3 weeks passed by very quickly. At the same time, it all happened one day at a time. And quite honestly, I can only be faithful with each day which I am given - worrying about tomorrow and trying to do tomorrow's work today is carrying a larger burden than is necessary. It is now May 3, and the last day of school/graduation is on May 25. Everything is all happening very quickly now, and the end is in sight. However, it will all happen one day at a time.