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The Eight Stages of Accepting June

It’s time. The students have left. The classroom has been cleaned up. It’s the end of yet another school year. As you pack up your laptop and give a quick glance about the classroom to see if you’ve missed anything, you feel an impressive mix of emotions. Today, Education World examines the "Eight Stages of Accepting June": the plethora of experiences associated with the school year coming to a close.

Stage One: Eyeing the Finish Line

Assignments are in, and with a confident (dare we say defiant) gusto, you finish the last grades of the semester. Each final essay commented upon, each grade entered onto PowerSchool, brings you one step closer to the end. You can almost feel the sun on your skin, the beach sand between your toes, and the cool embrace of your bed. As you send off an email to your students and their respective guardians, you feel a lightness you haven’t felt in 8 months. You’ve finally made it!

Stage Two: The Collapse

And then it happens. Just as the tips of your toes cross the finish line and the confetti streams through the air, the exhaustion you’ve been holding at bay with pure will and determination finally breaks the levy. The last month of school is no less than a marathon through quicksand, with little time to breathe, and less time to consider your own needs. When that bell rings on the last day of classes, it hits you, and it hits you hard. An entire year of built-up stress, multitasking, calculating, and problem solving mows you down like a freighter.

Stage Three: The Elation

And yet, you realize: You’re about to have some "free time." Unstructured time. Wait, even better: you might even get to structure your own time! Dare you say it, a sleep-in or two? A glow radiates through your body as you imagine long morning sits with a cup of coffee and a filling breakfast, ticking off the "to do" list of home chores that have been left wanting, or maybe even a Netflix movie night with a glass of wine. For the next two months, you get to be the architect of your destiny!

Stage Four: The Reckoning

But then you remember all of the curriculum work you have to do this summer. All of the revisions, all of the tweaks, new content, new skills, new adjustments, new rubrics, new organization systems.... Oh, there’s a new schedule next year? Oh, new standards? Oh, budget cuts slice the experiential performance tasks for three of your units? Oh, I have to do it all over? "Awesome." Not to mention your summer side gigs to make ends meet. Whatever happened to the whole teachers "get the summer off" thing? Was that ever really a thing? Sigh. Breathe. Enjoy these few "in between" moments.

Stage Five: The Apprehension

Now, oddly, a fear begins to seep in – if only for a moment. You begin to feel slightly nervous about the upcoming lack of daily structure of the summer. The routine of bells dictating when you wake, work, and eat. What is life without the bells? You begin to feel antsy. Yes, you have a lot to do over the summer, just with the added obstacle of not needing to do it all immediately. "Procrastinator You" likes to rear its ugly head during the summer months.... Can you beat it? Can you defeat the draw of being a lazy lump? Can you afford not to?

Stage Six: The Stumbling Block

Crap. You almost forgot ... there’s one more staff meeting, isn’t there? That last staff meeting feels cruel and unusual in the moment, despite it being one of the most laid-back and stressless. You stare at the clock and fidget with your phone as administration and team leaders run through the list: nice work this year, classrooms cleaned, grades due, summer expectations, contract detail, contract detail.... Your brain starts to numb, as you stare out the nearby window, imagining yourself frolicking through a windswept field.

Stage Seven: The Reminiscence

You’ve hardly left the building, and you already begin to miss your students. What is wrong with you? Don’t you remember the struggles, the frustration, the long worried hours awake at night? It was a tough year, but you did it! You did it together. And they’ve grown quite a bit, haven’t they? Darn it, those kiddos really made an impact on you. They’re going to be awesome, and the truth is, you’re going to miss their goofiness, their brilliance, and their uniqueness next year. There will never be a class quite like them, will there?

Stage Eight: The Emergence

And finally, you begin to feel re-awoken. Like you’re emerging from a cave after a long, hard winter. You recall a person who seems so distant, yet so familiar. A person who once had friends, a family! That person is you! Blinking into the sun, you remember what it was like to having extended conversation with people ... enjoying a casual meal ... pursuing a hobby or passing interest.... Out of the cocoon, you achingly spread your wings, drying them in the cool breeze, and imagine an afternoon where hats and fidget spinners and bathroom passes don’t matter anymore!

 

Thank you for everything you’ve done this year. And thank you for caring so much. You’re helping. Welcome to the summer holiday. Try to take a little time for yourself this summer. You’ve earned it.

 

Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Associate Contributing Editor

Lambert is an English / Language Arts teacher in Connecticut.

All images courtesy of GIPHY.