A summer message from a recharging teacher
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.