I miss enjoying summer as a teenager. There weren’t any cares in the world. Wake up around noon, stay out far past dusk. Long talks on the porch with best friends and walks around the block when the fireflies came out. On the hottest days, my friends and I would lap the neighborhood looking for sprinklers to run through, and, on our most daring of days, we’d tackle Dead Man’s Hill as if we were rebels without a cause.
Over ten years later, summer has lost its illusive luster. I do still spend my days around teenagers, most of which hate the fact that their parents put them in summer camp all day. My days are now spent jumping on trampolines, playing sharks and minnows, and pretending to stink at every card game I learned in middle school. Summer isn’t quite what it used to be.
It’s not all bad, though. Like a true teacher, I’ve found that this summer has become a learning experience inside of a terrible farmer’s tan. I’ve been thinking a lot about what teenagers most enjoy in an effort to find new ways to connect with my upcoming students. Although this is my third year of teaching (holy crap), this is my second group of students, so I feel like I’m starting from square one all over again. There’s always a point during my camp day in which I think about school in September.. new babies, new room, new content. A lot of new is happening in a month.
Since my last posting, I have moved classrooms for the third time to a tiny room with a surprisingly amazing view. This coming year, I will be teaching block periods of reading and writing, which, truthfully, scares the shit out of me, but it is what it is. I spend my 40hr. work week at camp, so there hasn’t been much time to plan or even conceive what I’m going to do this year. What novels do I teach? How do I manage reading and writing in 65 minutes? (Our block period really isn’t a traditional block.) How am I going to fit in essays and test prep and AR tests and grammar lessons? Honestly, thinking about all of it gives me chest pain.
I sat down a little while ago to start looking at my books to dip my toe in the water, so to speak, and to slowly get the ball rolling, but shortly after opening the first anthology, I felt the fear of the unknown and a longing for what I had. That’s when I rolled out those letters, the ones I alluded to in my last post. I began rereading the hopes and recollections of my first kids, and it warmed my heart to think that they are going to be in eighth grade in a month or so. Of course, I’m going to miss them immensely, but they made it. I met them on their first days of middle school, and here they are about to start their final year! It’s actually refreshing to leave little notes on the bottom of these letters – hopefully they’ll bring smiles and reassurance at some point next year when I can return them to their authors.
I’m hoping that a change in the winds can help steer my course.. that the quote I wear can give me the reassurance that I need to take on this insanely huge challenge and to teach well, to do justice to this position, and to truly change the lives of my new students.
Here’s to hoping.
Can’t ever stop doing that.