Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Friday, August 18, 2006
Summer Is Not Over, Goddammit
I was walking my dogs Monday morning, because it's one of those things a man just has to do sometimes, y'know? We were passing by a school that's on the next block. I saw all of these people who looked at least somewhat teacherish walking into the building.
Now, when you're a teacher and you see something like that at 6:30 in the morning in the middle of August, a number of things run through your head. The first is, who the fuck comes to work at 6:30? At my school, we've got some folks who insist on getting there around 7:00, but they're the exception to the rule. If school starts at 8:15, most of the teachers are rolling in at 8:14:59.
The next thing that goes through your head, once you've moved past the obscenely early start time, is panic. You have to stop several times and think: I'm not supposed to be back until August 31st, right? That's right, isn't it? I know I've looked at the school year calendar and I'm certain that's what it said. The last day of work, my principal said, "See you August 31st," right? Shit!
Then, when you've reassured yourself that you haven't fucked up severely and cost yourself the job that you bitch about so very, very much, you move on to the meat of the subject. What are these people doing here?
I looked at how all of these teachers were dressed. They seemed to mostly be wearing dark clothes. The men all had ties; many of the women wore dresses or skirts. So I thought, "Oh! That makes sense. Someone on staff died and they're meeting here at 6:30 in the morning so they can carpool to the funeral, which must be in the middle of Pennsylvania. Oh, that's so sad. I'll frown as I walk past, so they'll know I'm sympathetic." And I walked past, frowning. I was perfectly happy with this explanation, which seemed to tie up all the loose ends for me.
The problem was, when I walked past the next morning--a little later, because I got off to a slightly later start--those fuckers were there again. Still coming in before I thought work was supposed to start, still dressed more formally than I was comfortable with, still there way too fucking early. What the fuck?
So now I'm back to the drawing board, trying to figure these fuckers out. I'm thinking it's possible that the region this school is in is doing some heavy training early, in which case I should just be glad I'm in Region One. But, the school across the street from our house is in the same region, and that place is a goddamn ghost town right now. So it's not a region thing. And if it's just training, why the hell do these bastards look like they're going to prom? Beginning of the year training at my school, they're lucky if we show up in pants. Who the hell comes in for training in their Sunday best?
Which is when we shift from curiosity to bitterness.
Those assholes think they're so fucking awesome. "Oooo! I'm a dedicated teacher! I give up my summer so I can be better trained! I refuse to walk through the neighborhood where my students work unless I look respectable! My shit smells like roses!" I'm supposed to be impressed by a group of schmucks who doesn't take full advantage of their time off? Bullshit.
Then comes guilt.
Can I even call myself a teacher? Hell, I haven't started planning my opening units yet. I've been trying to not even think about going back to work. I'm an asshole. I hope one of my students shanks me.
And then, after all of this, we get the final twist. This morning, I'm walking my dogs past the school, I see all the teachers coming to work, early and dressy. I mutter under my breath. When I'm walking back to our apartment, I see something else. Students. The kids are showing up, dressed for school. There's staff outside the front door, greeting them with hugs and smiles. Huh?
You mean to tell me this school starts two and a half weeks early? What the fuck is that about? What the hell is wrong with these people? Do they get out two and a half weeks early? I don't think they do. I distinctly remember noticing their last day of school a couple months ago, which seemed to be the exact same as ours. Wow.
OK, it might make me a lousy teacher. Maybe I'm just not dedicated enough, maybe I don't have the children's best interests at heart, yadda, yadda, yadda. But if my principal stood up at a staff meeting and said, "Listen, folks, I've decided that we're cutting summer vacation short. It's better for the kids. See you August 14th," I would be the first one to hurl my grade book at him. And I would definitely not be alone.
Does that mean that we're not good teachers? Is this school down the street from me necessarily a fantastic place? Does not coming back early mean that I'm selfishly robbing my students of a better future? Probably. Dammit.
No, it just means that two random weeks during the school year you will be slaving away while they walk their dog. It all evens out in the end.
I resent the implication that my school is a haven for slavery.
This is not a charter school. It's not even a bar grapher school. It's a PS just like mine.
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