I am a high school English teacher with four children attending elementary school. Two of them are graduating to the middle school next year and the other two will climb the ladder to the fourth and second grades, respectively. I am currently spending my time updating the inventory of books in my classroom, squaring away the activity account for the junior class, turning in final grades to the counselor’s office, and a miasma of other tasks that must be completed before I can check out for the summer.
I wander the halls and see students taking all of the precious papers they worked diligently to produce and piling them in the recycle bin. Students return their worn and nearly damaged textbooks, pulling mounds of papers out from between the hard-bound covers. Where did it all go? As I mark yet another year of teaching off of the calendar I muse about the idea that each year seems to fly by even faster like father time is shifting gears.
My children are bringing home tons of projects that I did not realize they had spent time constructing. My son’s weird Benjamin Franklin doll he built took him two days to complete and now it sits wearing a dumb smile in our trashcan. Poor Ben has no idea that his head is about to deflate (his body will be separated out and put in the plastics bin along with his head). How much more hard work is thrown away at the end of the school year?
I graded my fair share of stellar essays this year, some of them garnering the coveted A+. I wonder how many of those essays are piled up in the recycle bin? I wonder how many stellar projects were painstakingly created and then tossed aside like so many weird Benjamin Franklin dolls? I have essays I wrote in college stored away in a file somewhere. I keep all of that stuff, but I suppose I’m a packrat in that regard.
Today is our final day of school. Students are burned out, they do their best to try to sleep at their desk in class, and do not care to do anything asked of them (including bringing their textbook back). I have summer conferences to attend, a book to write, maintenance to do on my house, and gardening to tend to. August, I am sure, will be here before I can blink, and I will have a new crop of students to teach. May they be as challenging as the last group. Right now, though, I suppose I feel a little like weird Ben Franklin. I need the rest.