Come with me on a journey through the stages teachers experience in the LIFE CYCLE OF A SCHOOL YEAR! The LIFE CYCLE OF A SCHOOL YEAR begins with the SUMMER STAGE. The standard demarcation points from each stage vary from teacher to teacher, but typically the SUMMER STAGE begins in May and lasts till after Labor Day. BREAK comes at the end of November and runs through Christmas Vacation. This is followed by the SPRING STAGE, late January through the end of April, where teachers just leap out of their seats and look for something to hold onto, until they can get back to the SUMMER STAGE.
THE FALL stage, in the LIFE CYCLE OF A SCHOOL YEAR, typically begins with a general optimism and sense of unity. By the end of this stage, all staff are ready to be committed! The transitions are always fluid and subtle. Beginning after labor day, teacher optimism is in full swing. Bonding in P.L.C. (Professional Learning Communities) meetings and working together for the sake of the students is all that matters. Lesson plans are enthusiastically developed and input from administrators is welcomed and encouraged. Early in this period everyone on campus is on the same page when it comes to school wide policies and duty stations. More and more teachers can be seen outside the warm comforting walls of their classroom smiling at each other and interests in peer bonding is at an all time high.. It is a time of joy, prosperity, and good will towards all. It will not last long past Labor Day.
By early to mid October, changes occur. Teacher’s are not their perky little selves and those who are, typically are met with eye rolls and sarcastic comments underneath tiresome sighs. The enthusiasm for teaching has assuaged into prayers of “Please God don’t let me kill the children…”. Productivity at this stage is tantamount to square pegs and round holes. Creativity begins to lack in P.L.C. meetings. Typically “how you taught it last year,” ends up being “how you teach it this year”. Input from admin on the surface is welcomed. Once admin have turned their backs, teachers begin to ask themselves questions. For example, “How in God’s name, am I supposed to get a kid, with a third grade reading level, to pass an 8th grade history test?” Comments such as “I’m not a miracle worker mother——!” often follow. Teachers also begin showing up later and later in this stage.
Teachers who once showed up at least an hour before school begins, can now be seen racing into the parking lot in an attempt to beat the Special Education bus before it puts out the stop sign. Teachers who get caught behind the Special Ed bus can be seen pounding their heads and hands in to the steering column and speaking in strange tongues. These late arrivals typically look like Keith Richards on a “bad”day. Copies or Coffee? That is the question for teachers during this period, but either way, the conundrum is a wasteful question. Neither can be accomplished due to long lines at both places and the bell has rung for class to begin.
Before THE FALL, teachers greet their students with warm smiles and mirth. Bonding with students is a good way to get them to work for you. By mid October, “that kid,” is never absent. Often times teachers don’t even shake “that kid’s” hand anymore. Attempts are made to obstruct the door so that, “that kid” never makes it on time and is sent to detention. Teachers nerves are beginning to fray at a rapid pace. Chronically flatulent and petulant children, who were once funny, now have their student ID pictures adorning the dart board in the teacher’s lounge. But THE FALL is not over yet…
From Mid October to Mid November, things deteriorate at a more rapid pace. Any and all contact with other teachers is on a “have to” basis. Most parlay between colleagues is forced and any courtesy shown is as thin as one-ply toilet paper. “Teach by movie” is usually the lesson plan of choice at this point. P.L.C. meetings become B.M.W. (Bitch, Moan, and Whine) sessions. Teachers begin to cocoon themselves in their classrooms, complaining of work that needs to be done. However, this time is used for Netflix, so that they can catch up on “their stories.” It is very dangerous to disturb the personal time of the teacher or administrator at this time in the year. Staff meetings are kept at minimum time for fear of mutiny. Such was the case of Ms. Polly Perky, who insisted on asking a question during a staff meeting, prolonging it an extra 15 minutes. A question mind you, that could have easily been asked via email. As of this date, Ms. Perky is still missing. Rumor has it that she has been donated to the cafeteria staff who suddenly had a major increase in Chicken Nuggets production.
The teacher’s psyche is very fragile before BREAK. At any moment, a teacher may lash out and strike. The threat lose their teaching credentials is at an all time high. For example, that same student who has been sprinting down the hall everyday since Labor Day, no matter how many times he has been told to stop, may soon meet their fate! During the last moments of THE FALL, when the student sprints down the hall, a teacher may “accidentally” stick their foot out, sending the student crashing into the lockers. Thus the reason no teachers show up for duty and have abandoned the hallways permanently.
THE FALL then transforms into BREAK. All the children, teachers, and administrators, suddenly transform back into the better angels of their nature. You have made it yet again teachers! Congratulations and enjoy your much needed break.
As always, thank you for reading TALES FROM THE RED PEN. Make sure you tell your friends! Until next week, I bid you Adieu!