I do not normally support the excessive use of exclamation points, but today is a special day. It’s the last day of school/first day of summer for Mr. Heath. He has worked for the school district in some form or another for the past three years, but this was his first year as a classroom teacher—a goal he’s had since he was elementary school-aged—and year one of lecturing, tutoring and paper grading has come to an official close. But unlike me (who was praising JesusAllahBuda on day 185 for getting me through it in one piece), Heath has a different attitude about his final day with his pupils.

The poor guy is actually a little sad.

Since I’ve known him, Heath has always wanted to be a teacher. I, on the other hand, change careers every year or so (not an exaggeration). So it’s hard sometimes to comprehend how happy and fulfilled he is through his work, as it is quite literally a dream come true. He comes home every evening not venting about something trivial that happened during the course of the day, but instead laughing about the funny, reflective, and endearing things his students have shared with him. I am so proud of him for sticking with it over the years and for caring so passionately about education.

Of course, what get’s him through this little rough patch of bidding adieu to his year-one youngins, is the knowledge there will be a whole new crop of kiddos next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

So let us not wallow in sadness at the passage of time, and instead celebrate what all there is to look forward to this summer….

  • Dozens of garden projects
  • Daily trips to the public library
  • Sleeping late
  • Labradoodle walking
  • Vacations to Mexico City
  • Vacations to New York City
  • Birthday Celebrations
  • Texas Rangers Baseball

And now is the time for this season called summer, and though school is now out, let’s not view it a bummer. Tonight we will party in true doodle house style. Happy summer to all, see ya after a while!

That was harder than it looked

Paid summer vacation? Twice as much money as a journalist? Where do I sign up?

Admittedly, that’s all I took into consideration before accepting a job as a high school journalism/newspaper/yearbook teacher. How hard could teaching really be? I remember high school. I had fun. This is going to be fine.

It turns out, teaching is really, Really, REALLY hard. It’s probably definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. As I sit here at my desk during the last few minutes of my last class of the day on the last day of school, I am amazed that I lasted through the entire school year. At points, I was convinced I wouldn’t make it. Afterall, I did a lot of things I never thought I would do: I learned how to battle the tsunami-like strength of teen-aged apathy, I learned how to keep my sanity at respectable levels despite regularly repeating the same sentences over and over again like a broken record, I learned how to converse with parents who are overly concerned and with parents who aren’t concerned enough, I learned the definitions of more acronyms than I care to admit, I learned that 12-hour work days are not cool, and the list goes on and on.

Some days were better than others—like when a student told me that after taking my class she decided she wants to major in journalism—and some days were on par with some of my more terrifying nightmares. But whether I wanted to pull my hair out at the end of the day or give big bear hugs to my most enthusiastic, hard-working students, it’s still one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had because of the extreme combination of those struggles and rewards.

Teaching has given me a greater appreciation of the learning process. After delivering lectures and leading group discussions, I found myself coveting the students who get to come to school everyday and simply soak up new information, new words, new experiences. And it made me really appreciate the best of my high school teachers who committed so much time to enabling the learning process. I question whether or not I will ever be able to teach with the same passion, enthusiasm and innovation as those life-changing teachers of my past.

With only a few minutes left before this spring turns to summer, I want to forever tattoo the Internet with a big THANK YOU to my greatest teachers who enabled my learning and, with resilience,  battled the struggles of being an educator that I am just now coming to discover. Thanks for your patience, and your kindness and your intellect. Maybe I didn’t appreciate you then, but I sure appreciate you now.

Now, let’s party.

One down, five to go

Without revealing too much about my job, my students or the school where I work, I still feel the need to make a post celebrating the end of the first six-weeks of school.

It wasn’t easy. That much, I will say. I didn’t think teaching would be a walk in the park or some kind of vacation, but after these few weeks I have a new respect for career teachers. The hours can be brutal (sometimes 12-hour days), the lack of student participation can be excruciating and the unfamiliarity with a new employer’s policies and procedures can make your head spin. Not to mention the hundreds upon hundreds of acronyms we are encouraged to practice, perform and prefer: TAKS, RAMP, PDAS, PASS, PSAT, STARS, SWAG and countless others…yikes.

But all that said, I’m having a good time. Guiding students through the publication process, watching them encourage each other, seeing genuine excitement on (some) of their faces as their work comes together; it really is—for lack of a better word—fun.

The papers are graded, the proof of the first edition of the paper is sitting on the coffee table and all my hair is still firmly attached to my head. Point Kelsey.