Monday, May 29, 2006

Bittersweet

The last week of this year's school term has arrived. I've been teaching for over thirty-three years now, but I never get used to the dynamics of the final week of classes.

As is the case every year, both the students and I are looking forward to summer vacation. But we also know that the time has come to say "Good-bye!" to some in the group. A few graduate, others move on to different educational circumstances. Such farewells are difficult even though I know that they are part of the annual cycle.

As a teacher about to begin this last week of the term's classes, I always wish that I had done some things differently. And even as this term ends, I am making plans for the next year. Throughout the summer, I make mental plans as to what I envision for each of the courses I teach. After all, September comes in just a few months! The first day of every term's classes is a day to look forward to and a time of another new start, but the planning for that first day of the upcoming term begins with the first day of summer vacation.

During this last week of classes, the new term seems far away. The ultimate paradox is that summer will have seemed too short when classes resume, yet summer's arrival seemed so distant during the school year.

25 Comments:

At 5/29/2006 11:55 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

I am sure you are glad for the break. I am resting up for my return to VT .

 
At 5/30/2006 12:24 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

We're on the home stretch. The last leg.

I always have great plans to do some of the curriculum during the summer. So far (after 4 years of doing this...) it hasn't happened. :-)

 
At 5/30/2006 12:33 AM, Blogger MissingLink said...

What a cute painting AOW.

So you are almost due for summer holidays are you?

 
At 5/30/2006 6:11 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
The painting is Mary Cassatt's Children Playing on a Beach, 1884. Additional information about the painting is here.

Beak and Missing Link,
I am definitely ready for summer vacation! In truth, I'm not much of a beach person unless the beach is in Maui. But I try to go to the swimming pool every day during the summer.

Monica R,
Getting students to do work during the summer is a tough one. I encourage all my students to read during the break and make a few assignments for the foreign-language classes so that the vocabulary doesn't slip away; but those assignments are geared for just the latter part of the break, in August, when students are often bored with the break itself.

 
At 5/30/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
Having a bit of trouble getting your site to load. I'll clear my cache and try again.

 
At 5/30/2006 11:15 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

School is already out here in Central Texas. My daughter's high-school graduation was held last Friday.

Now we have to deal with college.

Hope you have a wonderful summer vacation, AOW. It will go by way too fast though, I'm sure.

 
At 5/30/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger nanc said...

i would pray all teachers were as thoughtful and caring as you, aow.

 
At 5/30/2006 2:50 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Well then have a well earned relaxing summer AOW..except for the daily aggravation in the world that is!..lolz

 
At 5/30/2006 4:23 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

First order of business: Take care of that back!

Second: Have a well-deserved vacation!

 
At 5/30/2006 6:40 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

AOW,
Having a bit of trouble getting your site to load. I'll clear my cache and try again.

Did my site finally load?
I saw you comments so I assume it did.

 
At 5/30/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger eyesallaround said...

Hi AOW, Enjoy your time off:>) We're blessed to have you teaching the next generation. Without you and others like you, we'd be up sh*t creek for sure!!!

Oh by the way, one of the people who most influenced my life was a teacher, social studies, grade 12. We had studied WWII that year and I really enjoyed it, he was a good teacher, made everything interesting.

We each had a final "interview" of sorts with him to talk about what we'd be doing upon graduation. My parents thought the next step for a high school girl was marriage and kids (in restrospect they may have been right). At any rate, Mr Dudley said "Well, you might not go to college now, but you will someday." He sounded so sure of himself. He was right. I joined the USAF, took classes part time, continued after I got out, and got my degree (Summa Cum Laude I might add:>))in Chemical Engineering.

Teachers can change lives. He changed mine.

 
At 5/30/2006 11:54 PM, Blogger Truth-Pain said...

your site is quickly getting to be a favorite hangout of mine... :)

 
At 5/31/2006 6:42 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

To all,
Just letting everyone now that I'll be busy this week and won't be making many comments or blog rounds. The last week of classes is exhausting, particularly emotionally but physically as well. I hit the hay very early last night.

To top it all off, the Mustang broke down early Tuesday morning--pinion gears, I think. Hubby is working on it. But coming home from a last day of classes and hearing the sounds of a mechanic's frustration are going to be the routine here.

I didn't even boot up the computer last night. Now, THAT'S exhaustion!

 
At 5/31/2006 7:00 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- We are adults, mostly, so don't worry about taking care of business! Be sure you take care of your back! I'm not getting summer off, my son is working through the GED-prep and my daughter didn't have a real good year. Soooooooo, I'm on duty! Remember, the ones you really touch will come back, what a blessing to see them succeed and prosper in what G*D calls them to! Lucky you!

tmw

 
At 5/31/2006 9:51 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

When I was teaching in Miami, the last thing I did when school ended in June was to start worrying about next year. It would come soon enough. My wife, God bless her, taught summer school but I kept my lazy ass down at the beach.
33 years...wow. That's a remarkable job AOW, something you should be proud of. I'm sure you've made a strong impression on many of your students.

 
At 5/31/2006 2:02 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

wow eyes that is something! and thanks for your service.

 
At 5/31/2006 5:53 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Look after yourself AOW.

Let you hubby worry about the Mustang (he loves doinf it anyway).

 
At 5/31/2006 9:52 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

AOW

Take some well earned rest. If I am still sick tommorow I will stay home. Driving with food poisoning is a real feat . However I do know where the rest areas are.

 
At 5/31/2006 10:51 PM, Blogger FLORIAN said...

I bet you have some doozies for stories to tell over those 30 years of teaching AOW! I can imagine you think the typical student you've taught over the years has changed--mentally, socially, etc...

For worse I would imagine no?
No travel plans for the summer?

 
At 6/01/2006 1:47 AM, Blogger E. Rice said...

33 years...wow. That's a remarkable job AOW, something you should be proud of. I'm sure you've made a strong impression on many of your students.
Indeed, American Crusader, AOW has made a great impression on me and many of my other classmates, partly because AOW is the first teacher for many of us besides our own mothers, being their we're homeschoolers. But mostly, AOW has taught us lasting and incredibly important lessons that will serve us for the rest of our lives. Thank you, Always. Semper Fi.

 
At 6/01/2006 6:11 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

E. Rice,
Thank you for your kind words. I don't necessarily expect students to understand a teacher's dedication, especially while they are still taking classes from me. I know that I can be one tough teacher; my model is probably Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan.

I am truly blest to be working with homeschoolers!

Now, what are you doing up so late? Spanish and history exams on the last day! And a Latin project too!

 
At 6/01/2006 6:12 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beak,
When one has food poisoning, the accessibility of rest areas is imperative. Been there, done that!

 
At 6/01/2006 6:33 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Florian,
As is the way with teaching, I don't keep in touch with all of my former students. But a few do stay in touch. So far, none are doing any time in the penitentiary, though a few visited there briefly. They learned their lesson, however.

I bet you have some doozies for stories to tell over those 30 years of teaching...

Yep! I've even got a file for that material, but organizing it is daunting.

Summer plans? Well, the first order of business this year is the orthopedist to evaluate this back trouble. No house-cleaning (desperately needed) allowed until that doc gives the go-ahead, but thankfully no houseguests are expected this summer. I suspect that I'll be doing quite a bit of PT after I see the ortho. How all that works out will determine what we do for any vacation. Regardless of the back trouble, I'll be spending a lot of time at the swimming pool; I'll also be doing a bit of private tutoring and giving some piano lessons. And, of course, I'll be catching up on some reading. During the school term, I don't do much reading for pleasure.

Toward the end of summer, my husband and I usually take a road trip in the Mustang. Last year's trip was to Kentucky--a beautiful drive but not much to do as far as sight-seeing goes. We haven't toured New England since 1985, so going there might be a possibility. We tend not to plan too far in advance for a road trip.

Missing Link,
Hubby got the necessary parts off last night, thanks to a tip from a trusted friend. I think that a torch was required. The big push is on because he wants to drag-race this weekend and also attend some kind of Mustang show in PA. But I'm not sure that the car will be ready to roll by Saturday.

Crusader,
Until last year, I taught summer school of one type or another, from 1999-2004. But usually I kept my lazy self poolside during the summer. I like to swim laps and make long-term plans in that quiet isolation. In fact, I get some of my best ideas while swimming laps.

A commonly held myth is that teachers have "the summer off." It's not so! Good teachers think and plan all summer long.

TMW,
I'm not getting summer off, my son is working through the GED-prep and my daughter didn't have a real good year.

So, both your children have "summer school"?

Eyes,
One teacher can make a big difference in a student's life. Your Mr. Dudley deserves thanks. Have you done that?

 
At 6/01/2006 6:39 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Gayle,
College for your daughter? Another life-change.

WHT & Brooke,
Thank you for your well wishes. I'm definitely ready for summer break, but I'll still have to mail some grades because of two exams and a project due today. But all I have to do is enter the grades, run the averages, insert the grade sheets, and mail them. So, I have a few more days to go before I'm "free"!

Nanc,
Thankfully, there are more dedicated teachers than undedicated ones. What pulls many under are the paper-pushing requirements which have nothing to do with actual teaching.

Truth-Pain,
You are on my rounds. When I find time, I'll post a link to your site.

EB,
You're really making rounds these days. Everywhere I go, I see a comment from you--and that's a good thing.

 
At 6/01/2006 7:49 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- Up early making your rounds I see! Yes, as well as we have adjusted to Ben's death, we are still getting organized! It's not easy, I won't whitewash it, but without Jesus I don't even want to think of what would or wouldn't get accomplished! Plus the fact that my daughter received several bad bashes to the back of the head growing up and it has been found that hits to the back of the head can cause dyslexia! Scars the occiput(vision interpretation) area of the brain, so learning is slower. The compensation is that she has a fabulous memory! But getting the info in is a slog! Please be praying for her, she has been trying to learn how to spell the same 60 words all year and she just can't get them. Very frustrating for both of us!
Thanks!

tmw

 

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