Friday, September 2, 2011

Return of the Jedi

I am surely overstating my qualifications, but I am back after a relatively long hiatus from posting. Hopefully there are still two or three people out there reading this.

This past summer was the first since I began teaching 12 years ago where I truly embraced the vacation part of summer vacation. Eight weeks of no summer job, no professional development, no classes, no graduate school courses or writing, and no blog writing (or even reading). I spent seven of those eight weeks traveling around the southwest, with a side trip to Maui for non-camping relaxation, and a very short jaunt to Florida to watch the last group to go into space from American soil in quite some time.

One of my pics from Antelope Canyon
Some highlights?
  • Visited 9 states and 13 National Parks. 
  • Won the license plate game! If you’re not familiar, this means we saw license plates of all 50 states. Also saw license plates from 6 Canadian provinces (I’m disappointed in you, Manitoba) and 2 Mexican states. 
  • 1 near death experience with a rattlesnake. 

I can’t say I didn’t think about math, school, and all things professional. Many of the things I thought about are drafts of what may turn out to be a hurricane of blog posts in the next week or so. One recurring theme was summer vacation itself (I know, meta). I don’t know in what part this is due to the political atmosphere and in what part this is due to the fact that this was my first real summer vacation, but I found myself hesitant to talk with strangers about what I do for a living and what I was doing this summer. Feelings of guilt, indolence, and “being judged for not having a real job” arose.

Roger ClemensWhile I intellectually understand that much of the vitriol towards teachers in the past year has nothing to do with teachers and education, it’s still hard to hear pundits and “reporters” spouting untruths about lazy teachers working 6 hour days for 8 months a year, making extravagant salaries and benefits. Deciding that a teacher’s work day begins and ends at the class bell is like saying that an NFL player only works 16 days a year, or that Jon Stewart works a half hour a day. And movie stars? Three movies a year, 2 ½ hours per movie; they’re working less hours in a year than real 9-5 workers work in a day. As for our extravagant salaries, in 2007 the Yankee’s pitcher Roger Clemens made more than $7,000 PER PITCH. But please excuse me for just picking on high profile/famous jobs. Farmers only really work in April and October when they’re planting and harvesting, right? Sure sounds nice…


  1. Welcome back :) I love that you won the license plate game! I haven't won since I was about 9 years old..

    Also, the last paragraph of your post is awesome! I need to remember those arguments whenever I hear people complaining about teachers. I already knew most of them do work incredibly hard (my mom is always working into the late hours of the night), but it's good to have some witty retorts for people who don't think about the effort teachers put in outside of school hours.

  2. If anyone was going to die from that rattlesnake, it would have been me--not you!

  3. In retrospect, I think if anyone were going to die from the rattlesnake encounter it would have been the rattlesnake.

  4. Welcome back! I love your work and gain so much from reading and reflecting on your posts. Thanks, so much.

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