My team keeps a running calendar of events and a to-do list. We reference that calendar and list all the time as we plan together to serve the 69 fifth graders we teach this year. I reviewed the list today to see what had to be done and what had to be planned for. After the review, I can tell you that the agenda is full--there's little to no room for new events, and I've already started the 2020-2021 summer planning list with a few ideas I want to explore, ideas that will not fit into this year's agenda.
The more you teach, the more the year becomes shorter. After all, the year is only 180 school days long, and that's not a lot. Yet when you're teaching, some of those days seem like they are a month long, especially days when the challenges outweigh the needed support. Fortunately where I teach, that's not the case too often.
What makes this review and the return to school inviting is that, first of all, we got a couple extra days of vacation this holiday break which essentially gives us the time we need to prep for the return to school. One challenging aspect of classroom teaching is that most of the work you do to prepare for teaching happens on your own time since most of the time you're in school, you're on-task with students. So while we teach students for 180 days, most of us work about another 180 eight-hour days prepping and planning. Teaching is definitely a full-year job.
Another aspect of this review that makes the new year of school exciting is that we have a good number of special professional and educational events planned with and for the students including expert visitors, field studies, a climate fair, a fifth grade play and more. We generally move from one interdisciplinary and engaging event to another with some good pragmatic teaching in between. We've choreographed a good year for the students, and because of that and very supportive families, absenteeism is rarely an issue. Yet, as all teachers know, what we can do is limitless--we've never hit the ceiling when it comes to moving our craft forward and teaching well.
So, with the schedule set, it's time to prepare my home and other items for the 2020 start to school next Monday. I wish all teachers out there a successful 2020 school year. I encourage you to advocate with colleagues and administrators for what you need to do the job well. I still hear too many stories of oppression in schools, the kind of oppression that stalls the good work possible for children. We all know that schools hold tremendous potential for betterment, but teachers aren't superhuman--we need the supports that help us meet that potential so we can do even better.