Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer School - What Do I Miss?

Teaching Summer School can be a time of disequilibrium. You are not at your home school. Most of the children are not from your home school, so you have to learn faces and names anew. While you may know a few of your teaching peers most are not friends that you have known for years. And, like for me this summer, you may not be teaching the curriculum that you have come to think of as second nature because you have been doing it for so long that you think you really know what you are doing. You are thrown into a new pond with a new school of fish!

So what do I miss about my home school this summer?

I miss the coffee brewing when I walk into the school in the morning. I don't drink much coffee but I love the idea that it's there for anyone that wants a cup. It's just such a welcoming smell when you walk in.

I miss Miss Julie's friendly face in the front office. No matter how busy she is or how many people are waiting in line, she is always sunshine. She has a smile that says,"I'm so glad you're here today!"

I miss the first day debrief. At the end of the first day at my home school the entire staff meets in the Media Center to debrief the day. What went well? What do we need to fix? It just gives you a chance to voice concerns and celebrate the first day which can always be stressful. You just feel "in the loop".

I miss the Principal's Memo on Friday. At my home school it comes every Friday - sometimes late, but always before the new week starts - to remind us what is coming in the week ahead and to let us know important dates and issues. It just makes me feel informed.

I miss the Media Center. Because it is Summer School, the summer school's Media Center is closed (no money to pay for the help) and we are not allowed to check out books. I really miss the children being able to have a really large selection of reading materials. It's hard to fall in love with reading when you don't have things you really love to read! I'm teaching reading for heaven's sake! I also miss KK's (Media Specialist's) smiling face and her, "I will do whatever you need to make learning possible" attitude.

I miss a clean, organized room.  I had to go back to my home school and borrow supplies because they weren't available at my summer school. The room in my summer school is really dirty.  The teacher packed up and left and the custodians haven't had a chance to get it cleaned,  I asked when they thought they might be able to remove the dust ball for the corners and baseboards and was told that they were deep cleaning so it would take them longer and it would probably be another week before they got to my room, but if I wanted my trash dumped each day, I could put it in the hallways.  (Do you see my sad face?)

I miss being able to print at school. Because teachers pay for their own ink cartridges in their printers ($100) at this summer school site, the print cartridges and/or printers were all removed and Summer School teachers are not allowed to use the school's printers. I had to take my progress reports home to print!

I miss Suzanne (our Standards Coach) because she could answer any curriculum question that I had, and teaching in summer school something I haven't taught in years, I have plenty of questions. I also miss her because she is the one in my home school that tracks down books and supplies and makes sure that I have everything I need to teach. I have come to understand that this is truly a luxury.

This is the first time I have taught Summer School in over 20 years. In those earlier years, Summer School was always in my home school. Back in the day, teachers generally taught in their own classrooms (where they were already set up and knew where everything was) and they always had a few of their own students and others from classrooms of teachers that they knew. They generally just continued teaching what they had been teaching during the regular school year. Before Summer School even started, I knew what each student was going to need and how to prepare. In this situation this summer, Summer School is at a single site where students from a dozen different schools gather. The Summer school is in a different school every summer, something no principal looks forward to because of the extra work. Nobody owns summer school. Administrators know they just have to get through it this year so they don't have to have it again for years. I am sure all of this is because of budget - offering smaller summer schools - but I really miss the days when summer school was a simple extension of the school year for students who needed the extra - when we were really invested in the children because we would see every one of them and their siblings and their parents the next year. Some things were really better back in the day...

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