One teacher's summer vacation
Non-teachers absolutely hate the fact that teachers have three months off in the summer. I know this because I am married to a non-teacher. The phrase, "You have three months off!" is heard in my household more often than "Remember the Alamo!" was heard during the Texas war for independence. And when my wife says it, it is not with a smile on her face. In any case, here are the things that this teacher is doing with his three months off:
1. I run the Warroad High School weight room. My hours are 9-11AM on Monday thru Friday and 4PM to 7PM on Monday thru Thursday. I'm always disappointed at how few of our kids take advantage of this. I have one son who rode weight training to a college hockey scholarship and a five year pro career, and another who earned a regular spot on a state championship team because of it, so I am a believer. This year, our female athletes are pretty good about getting into the weight room, but our boys are pathetic. Not surprisingly, the same females are also the best students we have in our school. The kids who work the hardest at their sports are almost always the same kids who work the hardest in their classes.
NOTE: Because I'm working 22 hours a week, I've tried very hard to sell my wife on the idea that I really don't have summers off. She ain't buyin'!
2. I am revamping my AP Government class. For the first three years, the heart of the class consisted of the very traditional method of assigning readings and then lecturing on those readings. This coming year I will make the kids completely responsible for taking notes on the text and the readings on their own, and most of our class sessions will consist of me peppering them with questions. I think this is going to be a little harder for the kids, but I think they'll learn more, and I also think the class sessions will be a lot more fun.
3. I am converting my Basic American History class to Powerpoint. Last year I converted all the notes from my regular American History class to Powerpoint, so I've got a good base to work with.
4. Househusband! I am now in charge of making the meals at our house. Needless to say, this was my wife's idea. Hey, what can I say--she's a buyer at Marvin Windows. She's a better negotiator than I am.
5. Powerspray our very big deck. I did that a few weeks ago, and I was in a bent-over position, lugging the machine around for seven straight hours. My back will never be the same. I can't blame my wife for that idea--it was mine. I think I must have been drinking at the time.
6. Fermoyle family vacation! This year it was at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. And now it's over, darn it! I got a heckuva nice tan, and now that I'm back in good ol' Warroad, I can watch it fade for the rest of the summer.
7. Reading. The serious stuff has been Dumbing Down Our Kids, The War Against America's Public Schools, American Gospel (a history of separation of church and state), and Presidential Courage. I also always have one of my novels going. My favorite new one has been Sea Change by Robert Parker, and my favorite re-read has been Runaway Jury by Grisham.
8. Blogging. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best time for a teacher to blog, because you have some time. So many teacher-bloggers take the summer off, and then start blogging like crazy during the school year. I don't know how they do it. Half the time when I get home from school, the thought of reading and writing about education makes me want to throw up. Of course, the big problem during the summer is finding material to blog about. I mean, why do you think I did this?
NOTE: I live within a couple of miles of one of the nicest lakes in America (Lake of the Woods), so most people in Warroad love fishing and boating. I don't! Last year, in one of my few attempts at fishing, I caught my own face when a walleye spit out the hook as I was reeling it in. My attitude about boating is best expressed by this statement by some character in a novel I read a number of years ago: "Being on a boat is like being in jail with a chance of drowning."