I'm on Day 2 of Summer Break, and my mind is already spinning with ideas for next year. I just finished my 25th year teaching -- there was a time I thought I would take early retirement and finish out my career presenting full-time. Now that the time has actually arrived where that could be a possibility, I can't imagine leaving a job I love, and I'm nowhere ready (or old enough - ha!) to retire. I've been blessed to have the opportunity to present in 35 states and two other countries AND to work for a school district that allows me the opportunity to present and teach simultaneously.
If you're in the New Orleans or Las Vegas area this summer, I hope you can come to one of my sessions. When presenting, my primary goal is to empower teachers to be effective without living at school. We can do our job well and have a life too.
Presenting is my part-time job, so I spend the summer preparing to present. That also gets me ready for a new school year and helps you too because I'll post everything I do here. I front-load my year so I can leave after the buses on most days. For real -- we can leave at 4:10 each day, and generally, that's when I do, and I rarely take work home.
I was bound and determined to finish the 2018 year without crying. My class agreed not to talk about the last day of school even though we did an ABC countdown. The countdown gave them something to look forward to every day, and we talked about the happy/sad ending to the year. At morning meetings, students could share a high/low for the day. Many students would say, "I can't share my low..." Three or four students later, someone would say their low was that school was almost over, and the whole class would pretend to cry.
When the last day finally arrived, we were busy cleaning out desks, playing in water, and just enjoying school. They went to lunch and had just a few minutes to spare before the dismissal ritual began. I told them to enjoy summer, that they would always be my 2nd graders, and that they were always welcome to come back to visit me. Then, they got their normal high fives, fist bumps, or hugs at the end of the day.
As we were walking down the hall to the buses, I noticed one of my girls had her head down where I couldn't see her eyes. What I saw was gigantic tears splashing on her t-shirt. This is the same girl who wrote a "You Rock" note to be read aloud to the entire school just a few days before. The note said something like, "Mrs. Dick rocks because she makes me feel smart." I did my best not to cry, but I wrapped this little girl in a hug and cried too.
We spend a year with these littles and fall in love with them a little more each day. Then, we send them on to be loved by someone else knowing that they'll always have a special place in our hearts.
There's so much more to teaching than teaching. It's about empowering students to feel smart so they can conquer the world. It's about building relationships with the students and among the students. Kids need to play. Kids need to be loved. Kids need to know that they matter. Yes, they need to read and do math too, but it's so much easier to teach when their basic needs are being met.
We are making a difference in the lives of children. What we do matters. I hope you take time to reflect, renew, and rejuvenate this summer. August will be here before we know it.
Be sure to check back to my blog. I'll be updating the posts below this one over the next few weeks. If you need information sooner, email me or comment below.