December 8, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas Vacation

In a couple of weeks, you’ll send your students out the door for Christmas break, perhaps using the same silly mantra I always invoked: “See you next year!”

In response, most kids did a double take, and then I saw the light bulbs go on. “Oh!” their eyes said. “You mean the next calendar year!” And then even the most worldly-wise upperclassmen chuckled and waved as they sauntered down the hall to their lockers.

As I turned to begin packing up my vacation homework – a pile of journals to read, essays to revise, quizzes to grade – I stopped in my tracks. My time with these kids is half done now, I thought. Oh, wow.

How quickly the last four months had flown by. Before I knew it, it would be May!

Which was, for me, a sad thought because I generally loved my job and, especially, my students. So I did not relish the thought of waving good-bye to them as they passed to the next level of English proficiency, the next grade, or even beyond our school, post-graduation.

But that realization reignited any wavering resolve as well. I’ll give ‘em my best for the rest of our time together! I thought, clicking off the lights for their long winter’s rest.

And so it is with you.

You have undoubtedly earned your winter break after dealing with any number of challenges during the fall term: mid-year testing that, properly administered, falls in January but which is now mandated to occur six weeks into the school year; a parent who harangues you weekly because his daughter chooses not to do her homework – yet her failing grade is somehow your fault; the red tape involved in arranging services for a special needs’ kid whose IQ tests too high for some classes but too low for others (!); even the exhaustion involved in keeping up with grading and other paperwork.

So rest and rejuvenate between Christmas and New Year’s. Spend a whole day (or more!) curled up in a thick blanket, cup of tea at your side, devouring a great novel. Or curl up on the couch with your own children and enjoy a movie marathon. If exercise relaxes you, plan a daily visit to the gym. Or maybe some serious post-Christmas bargain hunting will do the trick!

And then come back to school in January ready to go. Ready to politely but firmly address that scheduling glitch with your principal. Ready to tackle the student-teacher assignment you weren’t expecting. Ready to correct dozens of spelling and math tests, no matter how monotonous. And – most importantly – ready to see each child for the unique, one-of-a-kind miracle he is.


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