School's out for summer, at least that's what they tell me. Most of my colleagues have yet to find any rest; they are busier than they should be right now. The economy has devastated what I considered untouchable - teachers' jobs. Teachers are taking extra workshops and classes to make themselves more marketable. Somehow they need to find a way to distinguish themselves from every other teacher. Jobs are disappearing fast and it's anyone's guess who will return to school in the Fall.
We'll always need teachers, right? And yet districts are finding more ways to do without us or do more with less of us these days.
In my neck of the woods middle and high schools have added an extra period to the school day, but did not add any extra time. In some areas teachers are not getting a planning period in order to meet the class needs of these changes, only to be offered an abbreviated day in the middle of the week - as if that's enough.
Another neighboring district is asking teachers to take unpaid "furloughs" next school year. Teachers are being asked to take days off without pay; but I am not sure if those are days when students are there. If they are, we will still have to pay the substitutes that will have to take their place. The other option is to take those days on professional days. It will save money and ultimately save jobs the district says.
There are hiring freezes in districts across the map. Newly graduated beginning teachers do not have a place to go. Many must leave the state in hopes of a job, any job.
The irony - we are still experiencing a teacher shortage crisis! There are not less children in schools; only less money to pay their teachers.
So it's difficult for teachers to rest this summer. But I encourage you to take the rest where you can find it. If it's 2 hours sitting at the water's edge, 45 minutes in the car while you wait for your son's baseball practice to finish, or locked in your bedroom with your Ipod playing your favorite songs. Do whatever it takes to find rest. No one is going to give it to you, but it is yours for the taking.
I offer you this poem by Anne Sexton for you to read in the morning. I hope it gives you rest.
There is joy in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry, "hello there, Anne,"
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though I often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The joy that isn't shared, I've heard,