It's the most wonderful time of the year (Well, at least for the parents...)

Well, it’s that time of year. (Parents, you know what I’m talking about!) It’s the time of year when parents of school-aged children are doing the happy dance!

Oh, I know the happy dance- I’m doing the happy dance myself! I might be the teacher, but I am also a mom. The happy dance comes at the end of a long, fun-filled summer- a summer filled with wet bathing suits, mildewed beach towels, empty wallets, fresh cut grass tracked across your hard wood floors, endless sleepovers, pool dates, golf dates, play dates and movie dates.

Parents are quite ready for school to start and frankly, so are most of the teachers. (Come on teachers, you know we are….) We have a pretty good idea what you are thinking at the end of the summer, but here’s a glimpse into what we are thinking.

Come the middle of August, my batteries are re-charged, and I am thinking ahead to the coming year. What kind of group will I get? Will anyone cry on the first day? Will I cry on the first day? Will they hit each other? Can they write their names, stand in a line, raise their hands, speak English, listen when I’m talking, and more importantly, find the bathroom in time? These are just a few of the questions that are beginning to creep into my brain.

As I brush these questions aside, I begin to think about what a teacher’s goals are for the year. Our most important goal is to help children love school. We want them to wake up in the morning excited about the coming day, and at the end of the day we want them to want to come back! (And it would be nice if we looked forward to coming back, too.) We want them to learn to be kind to their classmates, their teachers and their friends. We want them to not be afraid to try something new, and to not be discouraged if they fail. To that end, I try to make at least two or three mistakes a day, just to be a good role model for them. We want them to be curious about their world, be inquisitive, and be open to new ideas. We want them to take turns, to share, to play fair and we want them to want to learn.

On a more personal note, there are certain goals I have for myself. This year, I would like to make it to school in the actual car I purchased for myself, and not the beat up ’89 Honda Accord we got for our 17-year-old daughter. (Okay, it was free.) I would like to make it to school without spilling my coffee all over the floor of said Honda, or my clothing. (Psst…always wear something brown or black.) It would be nice to make it through the day without getting called to the principal’s office for a completely honest mistake. I will try to not take my students early to art or music, or pick them up late. I don’t know why, but the special teachers tend to frown upon that. In addition, I want to be sure to clean up all the glitter, play dough, paint splatters and permanent marker before the janitor shows up. (It would be nice to have him in my corner this year.) These are just a few of my “new year’s resolutions.” I’ll keep you posted.

Technically, there are certain things we as teachers are paid to do. You know, teach the kids to read, add numbers, write their name, define photosynthesis, do calculus, write a book report, speak another language, stand in line without pinching their neighbors, and other good stuff - all that mandatory. (Well, most of it) But as many of you know, we all perform some added duties that are incidental to our job. There are many little bonuses that your tax dollars are paying for. Here’s a peek into what we do in between the “good stuff.”

As soon as the children come into the room in the morning, we hit the ground running. We collect permission slips, lunch money, tissues, notes for the teachers, box tops for education (keep ‘em coming), excuses about missing items, stories about the night before, (sometimes a little TOO much information about stories from the night before.) news of the tooth fairy, who has a loose tooth, and the lo-down on birthday parties. This all occurs in the first five minutes, and typically all at once. If you can’t listen and respond to 7 or 8 kids at once, just throw in the towel right now. As the day progresses, we will bandage the cut, console the broken heart, hug the weepy, discipline the unruly and counsel the angry. We will try very hard to fill their every moment with a love for learning, while trying to raise their self-esteem, teach them good sportsmanship, fair play and instill a sense of pride.

All the while we remember that each of these children in our care is very special to someone. They are someone’s grandchild, niece, nephew, son or daughter. They are unique, they are fragile, and they are loved. They are loved not only by their family, but each and every day by their teacher.

(This was one of my first columns, and I am thrilled that I am still able to write for the local paper. Yeah. I'm moonlighting. Oh, and don't forget to enter the scooter contest. But don't tell Sara Henry I'm reminding you.)


Brian Miller said...

smiles. know we love you VM...teachers rock...and i get a break in 3 weeks...woohoo...ahem...smiles

Karen Harrington said...

I adore this piece, VM! It is certainly a special time of year for everyone. :)

Mel said...

What a great post! I really love your sentiments on teaching.

Scope said...

So, which is harder: Learning to stand in line or learning English? I wonder if "Frank" has a brother-from-another-mother about to make a grand entrance into you life?

How Sweet It Is-A lifestyle blog said...

Wow this brought tears to my eyes. I just now found your blog.
I am your newest follower.
It is because of people like you that I didn't turn out to be a serial killer LOL

I had some VERY special teachers growing up.

We are Three said...

So happy that we have teachers like you in this world. I am one of those parents that dread back to school. I love spending time with our son every day, all day. I will be sad when Sept. 6th rolls around but I know he is in good hands.

Mellodee said...

"....teach the kids to read, add numbers, write their name, define photosynthesis, do calculus, write a book report, speak another language, stand in line without pinching their neighbors, and other good stuff...." -- In kindergarten???

Tough school!


Captain Dumbass said...

I can't wait for Frank II.

Travis Erwin said...

Great post. MY wife is a teacher and selfish as it makes me I'm ready for her and the kids to return so I can have Monday mornings to myself again.

Sheila said...

Have you ever entered a project into DonorsChoose.org?
I would SO support you and I am sure others would as well.

Leslie said...

Love. Especially the part about trying to make mistakes to be a good role model. And my kids have come home over the years reporting when they catch teachers in mistakes. Awesome lesson.

Anonymous said...

Back to school already? Where has the summer gone?
Can't wait to hear about your special little people this year!

Gigi said...

Usually, I'm with you about the happy dance. But not this year, what with all the new fees, new uniform requirements, tuition (he goes to a private school) and all the "extras" for his Senior stuff.....my wallet is very, very sad.

But I love that I know he's had (and still does) have teachers like you!

Joanie said...

It's a great article every time I read it!

And I can't WAIT to meet this year's Frank or Stanley (or whatever he's called this year!)

SkylersDad said...

I am 54 and have regressed to not finding the bathroom in time!

Sharon Rose said...

Oh I am getting so excited! I know there is going to be new contestants for the daily short stories.

Frank and Stanley held our attention for the entire school year. Can't wait to see what the next one or two do to "stand out" in your class this year.

Sarah J. is a great writer. And I know she is a lovely lady. I am going to have to see that she moves on over so I can take that scooter home.

mssharealot said...

LOVE this post, and So hope my daughters have a teacher like you this year!

Just Two Chicks said...

Oh, I will really miss teaching!!! I'm so happy to have your blog to follow. I

Ellie Mae said...

Yes! Loving school was so important to ME throughout my school years. That is #1. Helping them to be excited and love going to school is so crucial.
And...Special teachers don't like it when you pick up late or bring early? Who knew?!! lol

Notes From ABroad said...

I wish I had had a teacher like you when I was a little kid.

Lynn said...

I love you Vodka Mom!

So. Cal. Gal said...

My teacher friend isn't looking forward to starting school next week. Then again, he teaches 4th-6th grade, so I'm sure you can understand.

Elisa @ Crazy, Amazing Life said...

What a fabulous blog post! Thank you for giving us the teacher's perspective, it's always nice to hear from someone who wants to take good care of your kids!

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♥ Braja said...

loved it. knew it was old cos you're talkin' about the car and I remember when I was there you were telling me about where that car "disappeared" to so I was confused but there's no alcohol involved and that's kinda sad, isn't it?


Judy said...

I am with Travis on this one. Glad to have a morning to myself! Not sure who is happier about school starting back, myself or the kiddos. Refreshing to hear about school from the teachers perspective. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for being you.