He Said What? – Back To School

Even though it’s hot enough to evaporate frozen margaritas outside, summer is coming to an end, and that inevitably means one thing for many people: back to school. Pretty soon it will be time to start wearing our H&M scarves and put away our short shorts and tanks.

As a parent this time of year means rotating carpools, going to PTA meetings, helping kids do their homework, enjoying occasional time alone at Starbucks, meeting with teachers, juggling schedules and more.

As a kid or college student it means, or should mean, hitting the books, watching less TV, going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and having a much more structured schedule. It also means a whole different social life and more interaction with other kids.

This year, for me, back to school takes on a whole new but not completely unfamiliar meaning as I take on the huge responsibility of teaching English to 160+ high school students. I’ve done it before.  I taught and did very well for eight years, but I have been out of the classroom a few years.

I am excited to be back, but my mind is filled with constant questions and thoughts. How will I keep up with the paperwork? Will I be too tough or too easy? Will the students like and respect me? How do I keep their attention?  How do I deal with pushy parents?

I have tremendous support at my new school from my colleagues and administrative staff. That’s a huge help.

The other day a guest speaker at one of our meetings said, “There are only two kinds of people in the world . . .”  Of course, I was thrilled to think he was quoting Britney, but the end of his statement was also good.  “Those who are educators, and those who support educators,” he finished.

It may seem like a cheesy quote to encourage teachers, but it is true.  Teaching is one of the most rewarding but toughest jobs.  There are state standards to be met, state tests to pass, “adequate yearly progress” to be made, administrators and difficult parents to please, not to mention never ending papers to grade and lesson plans to prepare.

But the perks, oh the perks.  Teachers get the whole summer off, for one. We also get holidays off and the pleasure of keeping up with the latest teenage slang. Word.

A very popular quote irritates me.  The one that goes, “Those who can, do.  Those who cannot, teach.”  That makes it seem like teaching is easy, or easier than other careers. It isn’t.

If you have never been a teacher or had any desire to do so, how well do you think you could teach a class of 35 fourteen-year-olds to write a well-constructed persuasive essay, or to understand and appreciate Shakespeare, or to document a research paper?

As you are out there this school year, working your own careers, or being students yourselves, or living it up at the bars on school nights, keep us teachers in your thoughts.  We need all the support we can get to help educate young minds.

Is that the school bell ringing?  Yes, it is.  Time to open the books.

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