Job Security & Belly Buttons

Summer. The pressure of its approach is already felt in schools. Teachers are looking at the stuff they’ve accumulated throughout the year or kept beyond their expiration dates. Like rangers marking diseased trees with red spray paint, we mentally mark the dumpster items long before the clean in June. We like to keep everything in the room in place until the children are gone. It gives the impression that although the rest of the school is preparing for summer vacation, our class just might be the one that keeps on going.

Administrators are convening. We look for the white smoke arising from the High School in signal that a decision has finally been made about the budget. The guillotine is set up on the athletic field readied to make the cuts. Whisperings in hallways and lunchrooms begin rumors about who’s coming and who will have to go; whose hours will be cut or who travel between two schools. Announced retirements bring longing, envy and party planning responsibilities no one has time for, but will do anyway. It’s the end of the year, when we have the least time and the most is required. It’s frantic and much like election night will be in seven months. You know there will be changes, but what that will mean nobody knows.

It may not be obvious from the outside, but from now through the last day in June there is a lot of tension. The secure, predictable loping of the school year becomes a Tilt-a-Whirl day to day news cycle marathon. Awards Days are planned, which means you have to remember who did something award worthy since October. There is a talent show in the works, concerts by bands and orchestras and performances by classes determined to prove to their parents that they learned something. Assessments take a huge amount of time, especially with the youngest kids who must be tested individually because they can’t read directions or keep track of where to write answers, which many can’t do anyway. Records must be updated, new classes formed, materials ordered after spending weekend hours going through catalogs and writing up the orders. Books need to be reorganized, straightened and stored. Crayons need to be fetched out of the heating systems and furniture, marker tops matched to the dried up marker bottoms, rejected pencil stumps need tossing and the paint you accidentally stained the rug with needs to be lifted so you don’t get moved down on the carpet replacement list. Down to hauling out their potted plants, staff members are worker bees.

Here is the first installation of tips to make the end of the school year easier on everyone.

1. No vacations between now and the end of the year. We need children to get work samples from, give tests to and verify that the distance we think they have come is accurate. Besides, by this time in the year we’re already envious of all the trips kids that are way better than we’ll be able to go on.

2. No unexpected end of year cakes, especially if there is no knife, plates, napkins or time, which there won’t be.

3. Bring all our books back. It’s a little annoying to find them stacked up outside our doors or on a table when we come back in fall. Total amnesty if they are returned before the last week of school.

4. As the weather warms up, remember no shorts shorter than where the fingertips fall when arms are down at sides, no spaghetti straps no belly buttons showing and understand that Crocks are worn at your own risk.

This all goes for students too.

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