We are in the end times and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. What? No, not THOSE end times, but kids are out of school and report cards come out next week. Teachers are still working. The end of the year is full of surprises for students and teachers alike. I do many things like writing, foster parenting, drawing, woodworking, helping take care of a seven-year-old, and the list keeps going. But, out of the many things that I do, my main job is that of a middle school teacher.
I have observed many things. Some kids will find out that they are not as smart as they think they are. And, some parents will find out that their kids aren’t as smart as they thought they were. Some will find that their child was smart and could do the work. Others will find out that their smart child doesn’t work up to their potential. And, a lot of this will be the teacher’s fault.
Now-a-days, almost everyone gets promoted, whether they need to or not. Sometimes the child is just too old be with younger children. I think fifteen is the maximum age for kids to stay in middle school, so off they go to become someone else’s problem. Sometimes those children have an epiphany in high school and realize that their free ride is quickly coming to an end and making minimum wage is not enough to survive on. Others never get it.
I was blessed this year and taught some super kids and I will miss them. I had an unusual assortment of teaching positions this year. On one day I taught math study skills to multiple classes of middle school boys and on the next day I was the in-school suspension teacher. At the end of the second quarter, a teacher went out on maternity leave and I was asked to take over her classes. Job Change!!! I became a sixth grade math teacher.
I’m in my nineteenth year of teaching math and I have never taught sixth grade more than one day when another teacher was absent. It scared me to death. These were little tiny sixth graders, except for the couple of eleven-year-olds that stood over six feet tall. I was told I needed to tone down my personality. But, no matter how hard I tried, that 8th grade teacher inside of me (yeah, the loud one) kept sneaking out. But I made it to the end, and some of the sweet children actually cried when I had to leave. They were either tears of joy or sadness, I’m not sure which. I’ve always said that I bring joy into the life of everyone that I meet, some when I come into the room and others when I leave. I choose sadness.
But, just like children get promoted, so do teachers. I spent time in sixth grade and next year I get to spend time in seventh grade. I don’t get to teach math, though, I get to teach Social studies, American History, to be exact. Now, I’ve spent a lot of time in the social studies classrooms, usually to harass the other teacher, but never to teach. That is unless you count my student teaching nineteen years ago, when I taught two math classes and two social studies classes. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived through a lot of US history, not most, but a lot. In all actuality, a friend of mine retired and my school lost a math position, so in order to keep me at the school I was selected. Therefore, I still have a job. There are few things better than a regular paycheck.
So, now I’m out for the summer and real work begins. Don’t start on how teachers are so lucky, because we get two months paid vacation, ‘cause we don’t. We are employed for 10 months, so we can elect to have those checks paid over twelve months or we have to figure out how to save and pay ourselves for those two months. Anyway, I will probably work harder over the next two months than I did most of the year. My honey-do list awaits.
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***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.