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A Teacher's Summer Vacation

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If you walk into a typical high school staff room in May, you would be hard pressed to find enthusiastic teachers collaborating on a lesson. The energy is more like mile 23 of a marathon: "Just get me to the end." Or "God, let June 15 arrive without me killing Jimmy Smith."

And then summer's here, and like Sisyphus, I walk down the mountain after a year of pushing students to the summit. If you prefer a more hopeful simile, then like the Phoenix, I am reborn. Yes, next year we will be better. In very few careers can one annually press a reset button.

A canard against teachers is that while we work hard during school, we have the entire summer to lounge about, drink margaritas and binge watch Breaking Bad. While it is true teachers have longer vacations than most professionals, summer is much more than lying on a tropical beach trying to forget the Jimmy Smiths.

We attend conferences, take classes and work on curriculum. We tweak what worked and jettison what did not. Summer is when we remind ourselves that we teach because we love kid energy and believe we can help them grow. We teach because we want to stoke the fires of their minds. And so we take a good chunk of summer to improve. We will have stronger lessons. We will be more empathetic and patient. We will not give up on Jimmy.

Summer is a time of infinite promise.


I am reminded of the last page of 'The Great Gatsby'. The narrator, Nick Carraway, reflects on the smashed dream of Jay Gatsby which in the minds of most readers symbolizes the American Dream. Fitzgerald seems to say that we know the American Dream is not real; nevertheless, we all chase it, as he puts it, "So we beat on, boats against the current."

I will never be the perfect teacher, but still during the summer hiatus, I beat on to become a bit better.

With a Perspective, this Matt Biers-Ariel.

Matt Biers-Ariel teaches English at Winters High School in Winters.

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