Thursday, July 07, 2005

What we do all day, summer edition

I, for one, am not a big kick-back-and-watch-cartoons type. That has its place, for sure, but I like to be busy. Summer can present unique challenges for teachers surprised by how much you have to like yourself if you are to be successful at hanging out with and entertaining yourself all day while your friends are at work.

You have to like yourself a LOT.

Then again, most of us have things to keep us busy: classes we are required/desire to take, second jobs, children to care for, family reunions, travel plans, planning for next year's teaching. I do my best to fill my summer with lots of these things, but there's still a lot of free time, which can be used for reading, exercise, renting movies, cleaning the house, cooking, re-designing one's blog... solitary endeavors, by and large.

This year, my school scheduled nine days of planning time. And boy, was I ready for it by the end of last week! Since I knew I would be thinking about school now, I did my best not to think about school then. Turns out, thinking about school is what I do something like, um, 90% of the time.

My thoughts, freed of this activity, wandered and rambled. I dreamed my principal's house burned down (she didn't mind; her clothes and appliances were not damaged; I didn't mind either, 'cause I got to hang out with a cute firefighter... in my dream). I dreamed that I was showing "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" at a retreat center, and my mom was there, and I kept having this conversation with two strangers (talking over a picket fence!) outside the center, and they were encouraging me to get pregnant, and were under the impression that I was a recent divorcee, and then my mom and I left together and she told me she didn't approve of my choice of movies, and she was driving with one car door open. Yeah. Dreams. Really vivid dreams.

My thoughts also wandered, with some regularity, into oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-myself-for-the-rest-of-the-day territory, usually followed immediately by a visit to why-aren't-you-doing-something-interesting-summer's-practically-already-over territory. If you have any doubt that time is elastic, talk to me during a week off.

I read the better part of four books, saw one circus, watched several movies, walked around a lot, bought a computer, cleaned the house, started volunteering in two different places, took yoga classes... but I tell you, it was a relief to go to work on Tuesday.

It's fun, sitting around with other teachers in quiet classrooms, working on curriculum. It's work I'd do anyway, but this summer I'm getting paid extra for it. I helped the other two science teachers set goals for this work period and for their teaching next year. Since then, we've pretty much just been planning independently. The beauty of it is that I can get a lot of quiet work done, then turn to the math teachers, sitting just a few feet away, show them my unit plan, and ask them if they see ways for us to collaborate or if they have any resources on measuring in centimeters that I could borrow. I can turn to the English teachers and ask if we can plan a meeting to really work on content-area literacy. I can pass along my unit planning template so that other teachers don't have to invent their own. The room is quiet and full of thought and work.

Today I also started reading through a webpage of education-related grants and gathering out and printing those that it seems like we might want to explore further; I'm making a binder, organized by subject area, with a section for teachers to put copies of completed grant applications so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel every time we write a grant.

Now I'm going to surf blogs for a while, eat lunch, clean the kitchen, set up my printer, and then head over to HousingWorks for my volunteer shift.

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