Every year around this time the collective cheers from students, parents, & teachers reach record decibel levels as another school year comes to a close. Teachers are happy because they will finally get time to catch up. (Nope...they don’t have 10 weeks off like you think. That will be a different post!) Parents are thrilled because they can relax with some responsibilities for a bit. Students however have a whole new kind of joy. Reflecting back to my childhood, I remember the sheer elation that I had on the last day of school as I thought about 10 weeks of no school, no schedule, no homework...no nothing! The joy I felt was like Christmas, my birthday, and Halloween all rolled into one. Literally, as I type this my stomach is flipping with excitement at just the memory of the feeling. Oh, to feel that joy again. Admit it. You feel it too. You are thinking about pools, beaches, amusement parks, creeks, mountains, free time, etc. You want to have 10 weeks of unencumbered bliss where you can have all that fun and sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. Haha.. Too much sleep?? NEVER!
Wait… pause… something just happened… My brain… My heart…
You know what? Every kid didn’t grow up like me. I didn’t grow up like every kid. Every kid doesn’t have that same view of summer. Many of you may not have had that view of sumer. Every student doesn’t see summer as a time of freedom, a time of fun, a time to relax, a time to recharge, a time to “get away” from all that is school. In fact, many students are afraid of summer. I will never be able to unhear some of my previous students beg to stay at school with me because they thought that I lived there over the summer. Some of them cried...literal tears, not because they were gonna miss me, not because they wanted school work, not because the school lunches were so delicious, not because they couldn’t have P.E. in the yard near their residence, but because they knew what waited for them on the other side of the consistency of the daily school schedule. They knew what was coming was a time of isolation from their friends, of being away from the love of their teachers, of going without breakfast and lunch, of having nothing to do because their families have no money, of having to face fears, uncertainty, and the struggles of life that are dimmed by the happiness they receive from school.
I am a bit upset at myself, honestly. I have only been out the classroom full time for 2 years, and I was halfway into this blog post before I took time to remember them-- my kids, the ones I love like myself. The ones I still talk to on a weekly basis. The ones who need us to be their voice so someone will know their struggles. The ones who need us to love them no matter what. Sometime I write blogs for other people, but this one...this one is for me. I write this so I will never forget that my privileged perspective of summer isn’t what everyone is feeling this time of year. I hear you little boy A, little girl K, little boy M, and little girl S. Your tears and sadness weren't in vain. This teacher remembers you, your story, your fears. I am thinking of you now. I know it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine for you like it is for some. I will share your stories. I will continue to fight for you. Hang in there. I am coming to find you so we can do something fun this summer!
I must confess the intent of this post when I started writing was to talk about all the fun, free things that you could do this summer with your kids. I was gonna create a list of free and doable day trips. I planned to highlight libraries that are offering reading programs and businesses that have food specials during the week. I was going to list 10 reasons to avoid camps and over structured summers in favor of spending more quality time with your kids. I was in the process of conducting science experiments at home so I could tell you about fun things to try with your kids. I was planning to dig deep into my teacher brain and list lots of home ideas for learning experiences. Instead, my teacher heart pushed my brain aside and reminded me of those I became an educator for… the ones who need a teacher the most. Hopefully, I opened up your heart a little too.