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Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Finish Out the School Year

How to Finish Out the School Year
Subtitle: ;sdfjknw;eoirtjawe[ nae’j saioja ojfis’fi w, What, you want final grades by when? aoifj moj am[pjap, What do you mean there is testing in my classroom and we have to move to the gym for a week? oj[mrar[ em[j, Mrs. Who? Oh, you’re the mom I have been trying to call all year, nice to hear from you in May.....
Step 1: Realize that the year will end.  It ends, I promise.  If you don’t believe me, go get your contract, they have to put a date on there.  See?? A real date.  Little better right? No stop, don’t go look at the calendar just yet!!! Stop counting boxes!!! Don’t give me that look; this is ONLY step 1.  Just mark that last day, ok?
Step 2:  NOW you can count the days unless you have worked yourself up into a complete dither as to how many days you have left.  We count the days now because you are going to figure out what days count, and that is not all of them. A day only counts if you are standing in front of the children teaching.  If you never stand in front of the children and teach, you are not a teacher, you are a babysitter, and you need to leave my blog.  People like you make my job harder next year.  Go get a job at a daycare.  Ok, sorry, real teacher rant, but back to my point, on your little calendar, list of days, whatever, here are the days you can cross out that do not count.  Here is a chart to help you (with some alternate activities):

Day that doesn’t count
Alternate Activity
You are asked to move from your classroom to the gym, cafeteria, etc. 
Take the kids outside and play.  Why? Because they are KIDS - our stupid government seems to have forgotten that.  Let them play, even the 18 year olds will play kickball.  
Testing has made first period last period, lunch at 8 am, third first first period and the children are wandering the halls lost. 
Star Wars!! See, the entire saga itself is, in its shortest form,16 hours and even though most kids have seen it it is like kid crack. As soon as they enter your room and see it playing, they will sit down, silent and memorized.  At any age.  Trust me, it works, I’ve tried it.  *Warning - random children might walk in and sit down as well. Make sure you ID these children quickly *
Field Trip day, and it doesn’t matter if it is your field trip or someone else’s, if 1/2 of your kids are going to be gone, it is not a day.
Now, here is where your true prowess as a teacher can shine.  I used these days to play “Dead Poet’s Society” where I would sit on my desk and talk to my students.  THEY thought we were doing nothing, but   in reality I was talking about how learning is cool and relating everything we are talking about socially back to the class.  Former students think I didn’t do that? Uh huh... let’s think about those facebook messages you send me where you are in your college classes and remember something I said in conversation. Yeah, I thought so...
Your exam/major test day
The only day you should be sitting at your desk.  Period. And don’t count this day. 

Step 3: Now count everything not crossed out. THOSE are the days you have left.  SOO much better right? Take a deep breath, do some yoga positions, and recognize that there is not much left. Ok, yes, there may be many more days than you had wanted to see originally, but we can make it, we can. Now we are going to outline some coping strategies now if you can hang with me.  Still not ok? Go ahead, get the Spanish wine.  But just one glass ok, ONE GLASS!! We need to be coherent for _____ days longer.  (Fill in blank with ## discovered in Step 2). 
Step 4: Create your support system.  You will need someone available 24 hours a day, so if your spouse/partner/significant other works you will need to have support in shifts.  These people need to be able to handle everything from a small pep talk to overcoming a slight headache to a complete and total nervous breakdown. Support can be anything, from someone to grade papers to just give you a hug.  Even virtually.  I had a small nervous breakdown the other day and went down my system, hubby was at work, mom was not answering the phone, best friend A at work teaching and probably enduring his own mental breakdown, best friend B different time zone and not up yet and thinks I am insane for becoming a teacher... so I resorted to the internet.  And Michael Shanks. (Of course) He virtually hugged me.  No lie.  Was INSANELY SWEET.  But he refused to grade my papers.  Oh well. I’m sill madly in love with him. Maybe I can convince him to grade later...
Step 5: Have a release.  Personally, I like a physical release. Stop. Right there. I am a runner sicko. An iPod and mileage are the best way to release.  If you are teaching in a school, run during your planning period or right after you are done with you afternoon duties.  I teach online, so I use my lunch hour and eat afterwards.  A mile is good, two is better, three is bliss. Absolute bliss.  Because at a rate of 8-10 minutes per mile 3 miles allows you 24-30 minutes of Stargate fantasies, just you and Daniel, in the lab.... I mean, you sweat good, your heart rate is up and you feel great, wait, dammit,  let’s just go to Step 6...
Step 6:  Food.  Don’t let yourself slide here my friends, because you need to be eating, a lot and well, but you cannot forget that bathing suit season is RIGHT AFTER you put those little darlings on the bus.  So stop with the chinese take-out, even though there are 1001 reasons why after trying to control those sun drugged hooligans all day, enduring meeting after meeting about tests that the people who have never set foot in a classroom have created, or sitting outside of the bathroom trying not to gag on the scent of feces and cigarette smoke, that you do not want to cook.  Which is fine.  Just order salad. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Real coffee, not that decaf mess.  I still don’t understand  that decaf mess, I mean, who drinks decaf, Jack (hot roommate - remember?), honey, can you get me another cup, yes I know it’s 3 am, I have seventeen more AP essays to grade, yes, brew an entire pot, I mean really, decaf, what in the hell....
Step 7: Ok, I finished grading at 5 am and am up at 8 so let’s forget step 7. Can someone forward this to Michael Shanks? Please? He has GOT to need a personal assistant.  Are you reading handsome? I am more than willing to come and assist you as needed to get out of grading these freakin’ papers. I clean and do laundry. I can also cook some MEAN Mexican food, but I know how they starve actors, so I am pretty creative with veggies as well. I am also Type-A personality, so I can keep you completely organized and even run lines at all hours since I am awake anyway grading damn papers. I’m preconditioned!  See, perfect, it’s a win win for everyone! (My email can be reached by commenting on the blog (hint hint). 
Step 8: The AP exam is over!! WHY DO I KEEP GIVING THESE CHILDREN WORK!?!? Oh, wait, it’s policy. Damn policy.  Back to step 8, which is, if you can, stop giving the children work.  Use this time of the year, post idiotic testing, to do what teachers did before politicians got into education:  TEACH.  Yes, that thing you went to school to learn how to do.  I teach dancing, cooking, culture, all of the fun stuff.  And don’t think you can’t because you can.  Your principal at this point is just waiting for scores to come back and is paying you no mind.  
Step 9:  Enjoy the little things. At the end of the year, the little boogers actually bring you things.  I might teach online, but I still have to visits schools face to face a few times a year and my kids bought me flowers, had a little dessert party and drew me pictures.  You better believe those flowers were on my desk until they died and those pictures are hanging on my wall.  Enjoying these little things takes your mind off how bad you want to choke them as they line up at the door to leave 15 minutes before the bell rings, and as we have discussed before, avoiding jail is always a bonus.  
Step 10:  Book a trip to Disney.  You thought I was going to say Spanish Wine, didn’t you? I am, just in a different location. Book a trip to Disney World with your best friend and make sure that your family and his/her family have adjoining rooms.  Turn in that final grade sheet, lock your classroom, get in the car in go.  Don’t worry yourself with the wine, there will be plenty down there, I promise (after all, it is a family theme park and they need something for the parents to do to calm there nerves after 10 hours of Mickey Madness).  Get to your hotel, check in, hug your best friend and head to the local wine shop.  You’ve got some relaxing to do.  Because your kids are going to wake you up at 6 a.m. to go to the park.  Dammit....

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