Sunday, July 15, 2007

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."


Blogger Anonymous Teacher said...

Agreed - I just jotted some thoughts along the same lines. It's not so much that work is a necessity (save for my Army Reserve duty -- can't exactly skimp on being an infantry captain), but I can't imagine just doing nothing during All That Time Off.

7/15/2007 4:22 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

AT, you're in the Army Reserve??? I will sleep better tonight knowing that the country is in good hands! :)

7/15/2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Ian H. said...

Your terms must be different - my last day was June 29th, and I'm back on August 22nd. And I have to prep for two new classes in that time...

7/15/2007 11:38 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

That's those darned Canadians for you! Our last day was June 1st, and in Minnesota, the legislature passed a law forbidding us from starting school before Labor Day as a result of pressure from the tourism industry.

7/15/2007 2:02 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Aha! After I responded to Anonymous Teacher, I went to her site, and now I realize that this Anonymous Teacher isn't the Anonymous Teacher that I thought she was. Or maybe her is a him and she is a he. This is really getting confusing.

7/15/2007 5:23 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Teacher said...

I'm a him. Hope you're still sleeping well ;-)

7/16/2007 4:51 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Oops! Sorry about that AT. Like I said, I was confused. Maybe we should refer to you as Mr. AT. And, yes, I'm still going to sleep just fine, thank you. And since I'm 56, that's saying something!

7/16/2007 5:55 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh jeez, I get the same thing from my spouse. Usually from between clenched teeth. Hey, you don't envy me when I'm dealing with Psycho Mom or Assistant Principal Plea Bargain or any of the other colorful characters that inhabit my life from September to June.

Then there's the fact that I take care of our several kids, saving thousands in child care.

And do all of the other zillion things that wouldn't get done if someone wasn't home for two and a half months.

But you sound too busy. You need a vacation!

8/10/2007 8:36 AM  

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