A sum­mer mes­sage from a recharg­ing teacher

The Compass - - OPINION - BYMICHELLE CLEARY-HAIRE

An­other aca­demic year has ended, and school is out for the sum­mer.

Al­though it is a time of cel­e­bra­tion, it is also a time for re­flec­tion. Teach­ers ask each other, “How was your year?”

I only speak for one year at a time and this one was the best ever. The work­load was heav­ier, class­room full to the brim with desks and stu­dents, cor­rect­ing un­til the wee hours of the morn­ing, lessons to plan, pho­to­copy­ing to do, meet­ings to at­tend, tu­tor­ing af­ter school and do­ing my best on a daily ba­sis to mo­ti­vate and ed­u­cate one mind at a time. And this year I learned a great way to deal with cell­phones when used at in­ap­pro­pri­ate times in the class­room, or when an as­sign­ment was a week late; I had the stu­dent call the par­ents right there and then and let me speak to them, tell them the is­sue and re­sume teach­ing.

It was amaz­ing the amount of work sub­mit­ted the fol­low­ing day and cell­phones is­sues dropped dra­mat­i­cally.

Yes, I do my job along with over 8,000 other teach­ers in this prov­ince.

“Yes,” many will say, “That is what you get paid to do.” And they are right, it is, as long as they re­mem­ber that it is their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and friends and rel­a­tives we spend our days with and ac­knowl­edge that it is a great re­spon­si­bil­ity and not one we take lightly.

I work with a great group of ded­i­cated col­leagues led by two fan­tas­tic ad­min­is­tra­tors whom I ad­mire a lot and am thank­ful they lead the ship I try to help steer ev­ery day. My days were made brighter by Sharon’s and Denise’s laugh­ter, Yvette’s ex­cel­lent lis­ten­ing skills, Kim’s con­stant en­cour­age­ment, Mark’s wicked sense of hu­mour, kind­ness from the staff in gen­eral, over­all sup­port from par­ents and guardians and Berkley, who main­tains the clean­est class­rooms and tells me ev­ery day, “you should go home.”

Of course, most im­por­tantly, there are the stu­dents. I shall miss my Level III English class as they go out in to the world of post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion and work and I hope they all know what a priv­i­lege it was to teach them and be taught by them. Visit of­ten.

To those teach­ers across the prov­ince who re­tired this year af­ter three decades in the class­room, I wish you all the best in your fu­ture en­deav­ours and hope you re­al­ize what an im­mea­sur­able con­tri­bu­tion you have made to the world. Re­lax and be proud of your achieve­ments.

Teach­ing is a re­ward­ing yet chal­leng­ing oc­cu­pa­tion and I am glad I was called to it. It is not for the thin-skinned, or those who just don’t know what to do with their lives.

Now, for those of you out there who are dy­ing to say, “You’ve got it made. Off for the sum­mer. How do I get paid to have the sum­mers off ?”

Yes, I make good money and I paid a lot of money to get this ed­u­ca­tion and if you are will­ing to do the fol­low­ing, you can be­come a teacher, too.

Go to univer­sity for al­most eight years, make kids work harder than they ever thought they could, make a C-plus feel like the win­ner of the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s Award, make kids won­der, make them crit­i­cize, make them apol­o­gize and mean it, make them write and re-write, make them read, read, read, make them show all their fi­nal drafts in English, make them say they are sorry to oth­ers, help them see the light at the end of the tun­nel, help them feel smart and suc­cess­ful, help them see their full po­ten­tial, help them un­der­stand why we prac­tice school “lock­downs,” help them see the good­ness in oth­ers, teach them com­pas­sion, teach them to say no and mean it, say yes and mean it, make them come back from the wash­room or wher­ever, take calls from par­ents who think you are an id­iot and their child is a ge­nius, take calls from par­ents who think you are a ge­nius, work with ex­cel­lent teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, work with medi­ocre staff and ad­min­is­tra­tors, be will­ing to lis­ten to ev­ery lie in the book and be ready to hear raw hon­esty when a stu­dent says, “Miss, did you dye your hair,” be will­ing to go to the ends of the earth to help a stu­dent suc­ceed, be ready to never hear a thank-you yet ready to get that thank-you in the form of a bot­tle of soup, a home­made cup cake or Valen­tine’s card with a per­sonal verse.

Be ready to be more tired than you ever thought pos­si­ble and get up and do it all over again. Feel like su­per woman/man some days and like the worst teacher the next. Have blad­ders made of stone. Eat your lunch in five min­utes or don’t have lunch at all. Be ready when the stu­dent says, “Miss, are you warm, are you OK?” when that menopausal mo­ment strikes and the sweat beads down your fore­head or some of the other hun­dred per­sonal ques­tions that in your days of go­ing to school you would never have asked in five mil­lion years. Hope to see you in Septem­ber. - Michelle Ber­nadette ClearyHaire re­sides in Har­bour Grace, and is a for­mer mu­nic­i­pal leader. She is mar­ried, is the mother of three daugh­ters, and is a teacher em­ployed by the New­found­land and Labrador English School District.

Michelle Cleary-Haire

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