Monday, August 19, 2013

Saluting the Teachers

I got up this morning and did my usual Monday routine -- toss in a load of laundry, pour a glass of tea, sit down at the computer to check Facebook and e-mail. I posted on my own page, and tried to find some things worth posting on my writer page as well. Some mornings, this routine is the slow awakening of a non-morning person, but this morning, it had a focus. 

Today is the first day of school for my friends who are teachers, and I want to wish them well. They're going back earlier this year and once again, I'm not joining them.

This year, for the second year in a row, instead of going to an inservice, I will take my laptop out onto the patio and write. I will spend four more days with my daughter, who doesn't go back to school until Thursday, and I will have a few extra days to do those things that didn't quite get done this summer.

This year, I have no regrets.

I've spent the past year figuring out who I am if I am not a school counselor. As it turns out, I'm a writer  and a parent -- but I knew that -- and I'm still an educator. I start a new school year of my own next week, when I begin a turn as an adjunct professor.

I have such respect for the amazing people who call themselves teachers. I've worked in three districts, each one staffed with people who do the profession -- and themselves -- proud. They are in it for the kids, somehow managing to separate the stink of politics from the fragrance of teaching, somehow managing to stay afloat in a river that becomes more polluted with each passing legislation. They grieve the end of summer, yet look forward to the promise of fall and the potential it brings to touch lives and make a difference on an individual level. 

The decision to leave was the right one for me, but as a parent, I'm grateful for all the teachers who stay. The ones who go back to work not knowing if their paychecks will clear. The ones who grin and bear it when they have 35 kids and 25 desks. The ones who -- in the face of overwhelming pressure to teach to the test -- manage to squeeze in some fun stuff because they know that's what will keep their students engaged, and that is what kids remember.

No, I'm not an inservice today. But I remain impressed by all of those who are, and I look forward to my new school year, where I will have the opportunity to teach those who aspire to enter this profession that somehow looks so easy from the outside in.

My wish for you on this first day is that your year lives up to all of your hopes for it. That you get to put into action all of those wonderful ideas you spent the summer creating. That every student who enters your classroom understands how much you pour into this profession that is so much more than just a job. 

And on those days when it all seems like too much, remember that there are many of us who appreciate all that you do every single day. We're out here cheering you on, even if you can't always hear us.

Have a great year.

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