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Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday Coffee: Back to School Edition

This week was our teacher work week in my school district. After a summer of part-time jobs, travel, graduate classes, staying home with children, and time for recharging our batteries, we are back. We had meetings, meetings, and more meetings. We overheated the copy machines, prepared our syllabi, rearranged our classrooms and put up posters. We had professional development and more meetings.

Our district (a large and diverse district on the coast of South Carolina) has a back-to-school rally for teachers. My school hosted the rally this year, and our gymnasium was filled with pumped-up teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, school nurses, and support staff (about 2,500 people in all).  Our keynote speaker was the president of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and he gave a very good talk with Power Point. One slide did cause the entire gym to erupt in laughter. The speaker related a success story--a young man who had attended a special program at one of South Carolina's technical colleges and become a certified welder. One the slide the smiling young man was shown with two figures: his salary before technical college, and his salary after technical college. The audience of teachers, all of whom have bachelor's degrees, many of whom have master's degrees, and some of whom have doctoral degrees laughed heartily when they saw the two figures: the technical college graduate went from making $500.00 a week to making $100,000.00 a year. Why was this funny? Because many teachers make $500.00 a week or even less. There is always some irony in college educated teachers telling their students that education leads to increased salaries: that certainly is not the case for us.

On Tuesday evening we had an orientation for our tenth grade students (my high school houses grades 10-12). We had a huge turnout--about 700 people came. Our sophomore class is pretty large (470 students). The evening was a big success, and I met many of my students and their parents. I was incredibly impressed. The students were all so polite and nice: every single one of them shook my hand and told me his or her name. The parents were so nice--I'm really looking forward to teaching this wonderful group of students.

Saturday I went in to put the finishing touches on my classroom. I have my copies made, my plans for the next two weeks, and now I'm in a state of nervous anticipation. Is anyone else about to begin a new school year (as a teacher, a student, or a parent)? Are you ready?


9 comments:

fatbooks.org said...

I've been debating what to do with myself when I go back to the States and the options usually run: go back to school, teach, become a famous writer, or work in a coffee shop. Sounds like I should consider some other careers...

Jennifer said...

I'm starting an MSW program in September and I'm so excited! I graduated in May 2010, and since then all I've wanted to do is go back to school. Of course, I will be another person for whom an advanced degree means nothing salary-wise, but ideally there will be a sense of fulfillment to go with it. Good for that kid, but I can't imagine that being a welder is very satisfying (at least it wouldn't be for me).

bibliophiliac said...

@fatbooks-teaching is a wonderful,ennervating, frustrating, fulfilling career. I keep coming back year after year despite the low pay, the politics, and all the rest. Why? The kids. However, I do sometimes fantasize about other careers: barrista, private detective, housewife? Famous writer? Those all sound good sometimes!

bibliophiliac said...

@Jennifer-congratulations on getting into grad school. I know it's getting more and more competitive. I hope you have a great first semester.

bermudaonion said...

Teachers went back last week here too since school starts on Wednesday. I am so glad that I don't have to worry about that anymore.

Aisle B said...

Isn't it amazing how teachers are so overlooked for their worth. I like to think of it this way - their value goes beyond the dollars signs for the enduring inspiration on the youth & leaders of tomorrow.

More power to teachers like you - who care to make the difference.

Sam said...

I teach in the UK and we don't go back until Sept 5th, although we finished much later than you (about July 22nd). I love the September back to school buzz every year - putting the backing paper up in the classroom, getting my new class list, starting afresh. Teaching is one of the only jobs where you get that lovely clean slate every year.

Kate said...

Not ready!!! :)

Here in MA we go back on September 1, have a four day weekend, and the kids come back the Tuesday after Labor Day. It's nice having only 1 day of meetings, but of course that means all the set-up is done on our own time. I have to get in there this week and start to get my head in "school mode". :)

Hope you had a nice start!

bibliophiliac said...

The first day for students was today. What a fantastic first day! After first block I was thinking *I could just do this forever*! Of course, at 2:30 I was completely exhausted. But the kids were great, and as Sam says, a fresh start every year is a gift! Kate, I hope your first day is as good as mine was!