Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why is "Over the Summer" so much Shorter than I Remember?

Ah, vacation. The first two weeks of August will find me “unplugged” with family before showing up for fall in-service on August 18th. I won’t be emailing colleagues back and forth about the revisions to the department exam we thought we’d get done “over the summer.” I won’t be combing through the new textbook and trying to figure out how students can register themselves for the online goodies while reshaping my units. I won’t be having meetings and writing letters to organize next fall’s Conference of English Teachers. No, I don’t do those things when I travel with my family, which means that all that stuff I thought I’d do across the luxurious stretch of time referred to as “over the summer” needs to be done in the next ten days. Gulp. Where does the time go?

I know our perception changes with age. The tree we climbed isn’t as high as we once thought. Wifey isn’t as naughty as it gets. And summer doesn’t last as long when I’m not twelve and passing the hot, languorous hours reading or building stuff out of boxes in the basement. (People can sense how cool I was, I’m sure!) The pile of professional reading still awaits my desire to plow through it. (I did, however, read all my brain candy favorites this summer, which has refreshed my love of reading, something every English teacher should reek of come fall, right?) The textbooks we didn’t choose, but I thought might still have worthwhile material, still taunt me that they may fix all my pedagogical problems if only I took the time to truly look at them. (I really did read the book we actually chose.) Will the department exam be finished? Yes. I don’t think I’ll have freshly Xeroxed copies to hand out on the first day of in-service, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have it done well in advance of the end of the first semester. Will I redo my units in step with the new textbook like I promised myself I would? Yes. However, I think I’ll only have the first three weeks student-ready “over the summer;” the rest will have to be generated as the semester rolls along. Will I have things in place for the October conference? Yes. I’ll have the room booked and the work orders in, but I won’t have it all done before my classes begin again.

It just seems that my fantasies about what I’ll get done “over the summer” never take into account my genuine need to rest. (Let me interrupt myself here to say that I am very grateful to get rest; in my early years of teaching I worked summer jobs and didn't take home school projects. It's a good trade-off overall...) Besides making progress on my work goals, I’ve actually watched shows that started at 10 p.m. this summer. I’ve read fictional books during the day. I’ve done crafty activities with my kid. I did not go through everything in the attic or finish my son’s “first year” baby book (he’s turning four), but who knows? I’ve got ten days before we travel, and because teachers get to live adult lives along a school calendar, I’ll keep the faith that everything gets done “over the summer.”

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


Jenni said...

Great blog! I think I spend the first month of summer sleeping way too much and feeling guilty. But I really think I need it. I have a week before a trip and then I start inservice. I feel like it is over :(

Mrs Tyler said...

I am also taking one last vacation-my yearly much anticipated trip to the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and then it is back to school inservice for me, too. The summer passed too quickly, but I can honestly say I am a little excited about the start of a new year of teaching.