I looked forward to this school year’s end, and I’m OK with it


Teaching | Thursday, May 30, 2013

I looked forward to this school year’s end, and I’m OK with it

Making the days count

(A little post-swim lesson fun with my son Joel a couple years ago. Nowadays, he’s much bigger and I have much less hair.)

I just started my new job yesterday.

It involves hauling children all over a pool, blowing bubbles with them in the water and catching them off the diving board.

Did I mention that this new job – swim instructor – is my annual summer part-time job?

It’s taxing on my body, but I love it. Being around the pool. Teaching new skills. I even get to have my own kids as participants.

I’ve been teaching swim lessons and coaching swim teams for about seven years and I look forward to it every year. It hearkens back to the old high school glory days when I was a swimmer and diver.

I have a confession to make, though.

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.

Weeks. That goes back before the school year ended.

So that means (brace yourself) …

I was looking forward to the end of the school year.

I admit it. Guilty as charged.

And looking forward to the year’s end doesn’t make me a bad teacher.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a teacher. I love to interact with my students and teach them skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

But it’s a change of pace. And change can be invigorating.

Thinking about my excitement for summer swim lessons has called two things to mind:

1. Teaching in a different venue has reminded me of things I love about teaching.

In two days, I have:

  • helped kids overcome fears and jump off a diving board
  • seen them float on their backs when they couldn’t have done it five minutes earlier
  • connected swimming techniques to Superman, Thomas the Tank Engine and penguins
  • giggled with little ones about silly jokes and had deep conversations about their Lightning McQueen swim suits

As a high school Spanish teacher, these aren’t my day-to-day reality. But they’ve been a blast.

2. If my change of pace has given me new life, think of how change can excite and empower my students.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, give up and just stay there.

[RELATED: Motivating our students]

But there’s something to throwing out that lesson plan book you’ve used for years to invent something new. (Ditching the textbook, if you will.)

It creates a spark of interest for students AND for the teacher.

And the proverbial spark can start a wildfire of enthusiasm and engagement.

For me, my summer change has already made me a better teacher for next school year. I’ve been refreshed by seeing teaching and learning through a new point of view.

When the end of the school year comes, they say, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”

I agree: make the days count.

But if you’re still passionate about teaching, don’t feel guilty if you have a good reason to count the days a little, too.

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

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