As another school year ends, I am once again beginning to hear the subtle, and sometimes, not so subtle countdown to exhaustion. If you humour me for a moment and remain quite still, you too will be able to hear the distinct moan of the tired educator.
Not all of them, to be fair, and probably not even most of them, but enough to notice.
At this time of year, everyone pats themselves on the back and tells one another what a challenging year it has been. They say challenging, but they really mean terrible and exhausting, because it is dangerous to share the truth.
They justify their personal struggles by telling endless stories of how their students drove them crazy. How the administrators drove them crazy too, and how unapt they really are. They can’t help themselves. It has been years since they were even in a classroom, and that’s if we can call what they did back then, teaching in the first place.
These tired teachers will predictably begin to discuss the inevitable failure of the Canadian education system. They will lament the bureaucracy streaming down from the Minster’s of Education’s office. They will offer wonderful solutions of banding together as educators and fighting the good fight to the end.
We get no respect.
We are undervalued and underpaid.
There is a huge problem with cell phones. Violence. Sexual promiscuity. A growing problem with gangs and uniforms. These kids lack any respect and basic manners and they do not appreciate the importance of cursive writing, multiplication tables, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
Is it any wonder they are exhausted?
If they don’t experience a premature mental breakdown, they sooth themselves and attempt to rejuvenate throughout the summer.
I am shocked that these special souls can even recover their strength in any capacity, in such a short amount of time.
I don’t mean to be negative, but I can’t help to hear the chatter in the staff room and hallways. Sometimes, I can’t help but be swept up in it as well, which is why I have taken up the monastic life in the vast desert of abandoned portables.
It is a great privilege to spend time with young people.
Every generation is different, yet somehow, they remain the same. They are marvellously human, all searching for a glimmer or abundance of hope and possibility.
I had a Sony CD player under my desk, that I took to class with me every day. They have their iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. They are as distracted as me. They are as excited as me. They are as confused and driven because they can’t help themselves to be human.
Another school year draws to its natural conclusion, and I am neither sorry for its end, or delighted by the arrival of summer vacation.
I have learned to accept the passage of time. All of it. I have learned to live in the moment, and enjoy the present. It makes no sense to regret the past, or to abandon yourself to the unknown future.
Summer is coming.
I am glad to see it on the horizon. I am excited and proud that I am far removed from the countdown to exhaustion.
It’s time to do some meaningful work elsewhere.
It is time to write and enjoy a pint of beer in the middle of the day.
It is time to enjoy my family.
It is time to live.