“Are you kidding me?”
I went to the eye doctor after school yesterday. Good news! My eyes are great- my glasses were wrong. They are fixing the problem and I will have the second pair of new ones very soon. In the meantime, my next appointment is in ninety days. So the receptionist plugged that little number in to the calendar and made this announcement:
‘Well, that makes it August 5. Won’t that be in-service for you?” I must have looked totally floored because she added, “Isn’t that what they call it when you go back to school? I can make the appointment for 4pm.”
“Yes…yes, that would be great, thanks.”
Yikes! What happened to my summer? A quick trip to VT, clean the house, work in the garden, finish a couple of projects, and it will be time to start school again! When did summer become 90 days?
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but it just suddenly hit me, when it was wrapped up in a number like that, that summer isn’t what it used to be. When I was a kid it seemed endless. In fact, it got to the point in July that I was actually bored. I missed my friends, I missed the routine of school, I even missed homework!
90 days…to be valued. To be spent wisely. To be spent on some major projects, yes, but also on relaxing and rejuvenating. I must keep in the back of my mind that my time is short. J
Ninety days also puts the term “next year” into a more realistic perspective. I have spoken to parents who seem to think that some miracle transformation is going to take place over the endless summer and their child is going to be a completely different student in the first grade. Well, welcome to reality folks! Little Johnny isn’t going to turn his life around in ninety days. He’s going to mature a little bit, make a few more cognitive connections, improve his muscle control a bit, and walk into first grade with the same personality and attitude he had in my classroom. Children actually change in tiny increments. Yes, they evolve and change over time, but it’s more like dripping syrup than flowing lava. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the “aha” moments!
I suppose I’m in a somewhat negative mood because two of my students got into trouble yesterday for actions that were first attempted last August. I checked the folders of both. One has done the same thing over two dozen times with various results. I have tried every form and combination of discipline in my arsenal- that has worked with other students- and failed to change the behavior of this child. This is a bright, skilled student who excels in academics and gets plenty of praise in that area, yet continues to be a daily disruption and threat to the learning and safety of others. I understand that it is really not my problem to solve, but I feel like a failure nonetheless. And I know that the child’s transition to first grade will not be a smooth one. The other student is better in some areas, worse in others, and again…a daily problem from August to this week, and undoubtedly next week as well.
My question of the day to one of my colleagues was “What are we really accomplishing if we produce a child who can read, but doesn’t value the worth and rights of other people?” If a student will blatantly lie, cheat, steal, and harm others, receive punishment for it, and then do it again, then how high up on the list of priorities can we place those wonderful reading skills?
A couple in a nearby town was arrested this week for leaving their eighteen-month-old child locked in a car while they sat in the casino gambling. There were two of them, yet they didn’t even care enough about the child to take turns watching it. Are these people examples of what happens when you have academic skills but no empathy? I don’t know. But something is clearly lacking in their lives.
I didn’t start out to be maudlin and depressing, it just happened. Sorry.
Anyway, I plan to savor every moment of my vacation, knowing that it is short in comparison to my expectations and ambitious plans.
And I will try to be understanding when I get my little ones in the fall, knowing that their pre-k teachers are thinking the same thing I am this week, “Honestly, I’ve done the best I can. I tried. I’m sorry.”
Hang in there…it’s Thursday. That’s almost Friday. LOL