Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"My Grades are in."

When a teacher enters the workroom, copier room, or lunchroom able to make that comment at the end of the year, he or she elicits one of two reactions. Teachers who have also put their grades in might offer a high-five, a “Whoo-hoo!,” a raucous off key round of “School’s out for sum—mer!” or just a fervent, “Me, too, thank goodness.” Teachers who have not put their grades in will most likely groan and grab the remaining pile of whatever still needs grading exclaiming, “How does everyone do it? I still have x papers left!,” while scurrying away from the rising energy of teachers liberated from the wheel of stuff to do. It is a feeling fragrant with childhood memories of reaching summer vacation, and I love it, and I’m so grateful to have an adult profession that doesn’t break down into 50 weeks of work with 2 weeks off. Unlike most other working adults, I can clear my desk without a pink slip. My work here is done.

Getting my last set of grades in for the calendar year creates euphoria in me, but like every good buzz, there is a letdown, a sugar crash, a hangover. While getting my grades in, I push down concerns about students whose grades might not accurately reflect their learning (too high? too low?), about lessons with choppy areas that need reworking, and about situations I could have handled differently. My thoughts swirl at this time of year, like party debris left to clean up in the morning when the mind is clearer and the body rested. It’s too soon to jump right into reworking things for next year; my mind feels so saturated that I can’t yet think about doing things differently. However, I try to pack my bag when I leave at the end of the summer term with all the materials I might need when I restructure my lessons at home:


Eventually this summer, I’ll pull apart the seams of my research unit and put in new pieces while paring down some of the old ones. I can’t see the solutions yet, but I see the places that are worn out and need attention. Our department plans to norm an essay together in the fall, and I want to help prepare that process. Usually, I’ve got some kind of income-earning work during the summer, too, but I get a change of scenery and space from the classroom. Yes, as a teacher, I work on my craft all summer, but the hiatus from actual students does make summer refreshing. After a little break, I’ll clean up the party debris and enjoy thinking about how I want my next party to go…To my fellow teachers on a traditional calendar, may your grades be in!

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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