No! I’m not pitting teachers versus Central Office! It has been a year since I reflected here about the end of the school year, and a lot has changed. For the first time since–well, before I started PreK, I guess–the last day of school did not mean the start of summer vacation. This June, I wasn’t counting down the days, field trips, and projects that would bring us to the last day of school. In fact, I was shocked when a teacher told me earlier in the month that there were nine days left. Nine days?? And I hadn’t realized??
Well, it makes sense that you wouldn’t realize, my colleagues told me. Your year doesn’t end on June 22; you’re still setting your alarm on June 23, and scheduling meetings for the summer months. And they are right, and that isn’t really what jarred me about this June. There is a feeling, a mood in the air for teachers and schools that starts about that first week of June, and I miss it from my new vantage point at Central Office.
June, for teachers, is INSANE. As mentioned above, the schedule blows up with field trips, presentations, special events. Plus grades are due, plus the classroom needs organizing, plus cleaning, plus making careful considerations about how to arrange students in classrooms for the next year and learning bits and pieces about the new students you’ll have in just eight weeks. June is also just a lovely month in Massachusetts (and in most places, I’m sure), with longer days that get warmer and warmer. There are retirement parties, and end-of-year gatherings; you’re staying up later than normal on school nights and weekends are busier in June. There’s an anticipation of summer vacation that permeates every day, and it’s exciting, and then there’s the nostalgia for the year coming to a close. Kids from previous years come back to visit, parents are so appreciative of your time and efforts, and you get to spend a lot of joyful time with your current students. On the last day, you close your classroom door as you leave and drive away with the windows down, feeling exhausted and proud and exhilarated because it’s summertime! June as a teacher feels almost a little bit magical.
June in Central Office sucks. I’m sorry for the juvenile word, but it does. You get to participate in some of the fun end-of-year activities at the schools, but without having a personal connection to the kids, it doesn’t feel as real. The work doesn’t wind down, as most people (myself included) expect, it ramps up to become one of the busiest times I can remember in the past year. Teachers and school employees are all trying to wrap up loose ends and clear their plates before leaving for summer (which is good! They should be!), but all those loose ends fly straight to Central Office and the phone is ringing off the hook. Now, I’m not meaning to be completely negative here. I LOVE it when work is busy, when you’re constantly on the go, things need to get done and there is a sense of urgency around the office–that’s exhilarating. I love getting things done, and helping people get things done, and solving problems. It’s awesome! But the dissonance for me this June is that while I’m still crazy busy (same as when teaching), there’s none of the joyfulness of June as a teacher. You don’t get the magical student moments, you don’t get the rush of closing that classroom door and walking down the quiet hallways. It’s business as usual in Central Office.
So that feels like a bit of a loss, moving from teaching to CO. There’s plenty to love about the work I do now, but the magic of June I think might be reserved for teachers, and I’m jealous of that. A colleague in Central Office came to my office to “check on me,” yesterday, and I just now realized why–this June shift must not be my experience alone. Luckily, I unknowingly built myself a bit of a “bridge” this year, to help me make the adjustment. Yesterday was the last day of school, and today I’m home because I have a dishwasher being delivered sometime between 10-2. So I got to stay up a little late last night, and sleep in a little bit this morning, and sip coffee while writing and reflecting. This evening I’m heading up to Maine to spend time with a friend, and so just for a little while, I get to pretend that I’ve finished up the last day and I’m on summer vacation. Then I’ll come back to the office on Monday, and I’ll find it to be a little quieter, with fewer emails. I’ll happily dig back into the important work of professional development, finding ways to help rejuvenate, engage, and inspire teachers as they gear up for their next set of students, coming in just eight short weeks!!