You know, the time of year that, when you were between 5 - 22 years old meant summer break.
And, because I chose to be an educator, it has continued to mean that. Sure, summer break has morphed in meaning over time.
When I was in elementary school, it meant summer care, camps, and softball/soccer.
In middle school, it meant staying home or using my bike to get from place to place during the day and softball at night.
In high school, it meant a summer job (or two, or three), hanging out with friends, going on "adventures" around the area, and expanding my wings. It also meant scoring some extra class credits towards graduation. Short explanation: because I was so involved in the arts in HS, the only way I could fit in all the required credits to graduate was through taking some courses during the summer. My school was not one where summer school was meant only for the kids that were falling behind. It also applied to kids that just wanted to learn more.
In college, summer break was surprisingly similar to HS summer break. Summer job, hanging out with friends, maybe a few classes, and adventures. Only, at this point in time, the adventures were, well, adventurous.
Now, I'm a teacher. I still get summer breaks. The breaks are still similar to my summer breaks from HS and College...with a few minor differences. I'm actually living somewhere that, everyday, an adventure is only 30 minutes away on a hike. I am still working a part time summer job, but it's with more autonomy than I've ever been given for a part time job. I still ride my bike to meet up with friends. I am still taking classes (towards that ever looming goal of the Masters).
But I've also got one more thing on my docket during the summers now. Reflection.
Sure, when I was in HS and College I reflected on the previous year...but not in the same way.
Now, during the summers, I think about all of the students that I taught over the past year. Who I reached and positively affected, and who slipped between the cracks and how I'm going to catch them next year. I also think, and worry, about the students who have less than awesome home lives. Summer isn't a relaxing time for them, and that's not fair.
I think about all of the lesson plans that went well, and the ones that need some serious loving if I'm going to get them to be effective next school year.
I think about the programs and concerts I need to plan. I think about the funds that need to be raised if I'm going to get the supplies my students need to successfully learn about music.
A lot of people say "Oh, you're a teacher, well, you get paid less because you get all summer off."
But that's not really true. Not at all.
If you think about all the time I spend reflecting on the past year and planning for the next year, I easily work 60 hour weeks during the school year, and 40 hour weeks during the summer. This doesn't mean I'm always tied to a desk and "working". Some of my best lesson ideas have hit me while I was out on a hike with Koda. It's the idea that my job, just like all other educators, doesn't ever leave me. It's a job where you "take it home". Every day, whether or not you saw your students, it follows you. This can be great and not so great.
The fact that I'm thinking about school on a Sunday while sitting in a coffee shop is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.
Year #2 was a blast. That was what this post was originally supposed to be all about. I love teaching and this year has been so much more affirming of that love than Year #1, I'm positively giddy for next year.
But I am excited for the re-boot time this summer.