Back to school soon, eh?
Gotta go back to work?
The long vacation almost over?
I hear these comments from friends and relatives the last days of August. Acquaintances who pass with a quick “How are you?” any other time of year, now take time to gloat and ask, “Back to the grind, right?” Apparently, they are under the impression that I have not thought about school these past weeks of relaxed responsibility. To the contrary, for the past eight weeks, I continued to think about school.
While summer vacation allowed me the opportunity to catch up on reading for pleasure, some of the books I read this summer (The Fault in Our Stars by Jon Green, When She Woke by Hillary Jordan), are ones I plan to share with my students. Summer allowed me the opportunity be a student and to take classes to improve my understanding of instructional strategies. Cris Tovani’s book, Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? was particularly interesting as a resource to share with content area teachers. Finally, during the summer I had long stretches of uninterrupted time to think and to write. Consequently, the activities I pursued in the summer are not unlike the activities I pursue during the school year. The difference is that I do not have to complete reading or writing during July’s halcyon days at the almost breakneck speed I use from September to June. Even in these days of leisure, the classroom is never far from my mind. August’s arrival signals an end to the unhurried pace practiced by those in other professions.
For teachers, there is a great deal of physical preparation to teach: preparing the classroom, preparing the materials, and preparing the kidneys to go hours on end. There is also the emotional preparation for the highs and lows that will follow for the next 38 weeks of school. Teachers know that setting the right tone on Mondays can make a huge difference on the academic success of a school week. Which brings me to the importance of Sunday night.
Sunday night is for planning.
Those hours before the beginning of any school week are fraught with detailed lists of necessary supplies, schedules for delivering instruction, and aggressive strategies to beat other teachers to the copier on Monday mornings.
Those few hours before the Monday morning announcements are also exciting as planned lessons, packed with potential, sit ready to be deployed. Sunday nights are full of promise.
Therefore, August is the Sunday night of the school year. Teachers mentally planned bulletin boards, unpacked supplies, arranged classroom furniture, and put their last touches on unit plans before they set a foot in their classroom. On that first day of school-that first day of the week- their preparations will pay off.
So, yes, to those who have asked; the long vacation is over. But going “back to school”? I really never left.