“And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again . . .”
~ “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
I know I am a grown woman, but I still believe in the magic of the holidays. I have my students write letters to you, while reminding them that you are always watching.
You know, back when I was a paraprofessional, the teacher I worked with said to me, “The day before winter break is the best day of the year.” And I wondered, “Isn’t the last day of school the best day of the year?”
She explained that in the world of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, the end of the year can actually be a rough time. Summer, and the accompanying long days without consistent structure, can be scary for them. Grades are due, IEPs need to be updated, rooms should be packed up, nerves are frazzled.
The day before winter break, however, is a day when everyone is in festive mood. There is a palpable excitement in the air. As a teacher, I can now agree that the day before break may just be the best day of the school year.
This year I would sincerely like:
1.) Eternal patience and optimism. So far today, I have been bit, hit, and kicked, and my hair has been pulled. I am still smiling and I promise I will show up smiling and enthusiastic tomorrow—because I want to, not just because I am contractually obligated to. If I cannot have patience and optimism, a strong pair of shin guards would suffice.
2.) Fabulous lives for all my children. I would like to not worry about them when they go home. It would help me sleep better at night (so I can dream up more ideas). Please make sure they all have enough to eat, presents under the tree, plenty of sleep, and lots of love and attention. If they read a book or two over the break as well, I’d be very grateful.
3.) A better home/work balance. Right now the scales are heavily tipped toward work. People think I have children because I boast of my students’ accomplishments with the zeal of a proud family member. I would like a hobby that does not involve work or graduate school. Watching “Mad Men” marathons because I am too tired to get off the couch doesn’t count.
4.) That every student gets a qualified, caring, enthusiastic teacher and that every qualified, caring, and enthusiastic teacher finds a job. I feel so lucky that I work in a district with plenty of curriculum and materials. (Remember when I saw the overhead, endless construction paper, and laminator that first August? I thought Christmas had come early!) And I’d like to see all the deserving teachers find great teams to work with. I know that may be out of your realm, but if you could, please talk to the legislators about fixing the laws so great teachers want to stay in the profession.
5.) A change in public opinion. Every day I see and read news stories in which people criticize teachers. It is hard for me to not take it personally. I wish they could see how hard we all work; every teacher I know always has the kids’ best interests at heart.
6.) An endless bag of tricks. Right now my brain is chock-full of ideas, interventions, strategies, and adaptations. I’m always willing to try new things to help my students, so please keep the ideas coming! If you could add a few more hours in my day, I’d like that as well. Could we up it from 24 to 36?
I know this is a long wish list, but I’m working very hard on this end to make things happen. Any magic you can throw my way would be appreciated.