Spring arrives in Wisconsin in about a week. Two weeks ago, there was snow in the air and I had to brush off my car every morning. Today, all the leaves are green and students run outside in shirtsleeves even though the temperature has not yet caught up with the trees. The fields are all turned up and freshly plowed on my way to work. As soon as we shake the last frost from this long and cruel winter, the corn will be in the ground. Even though the farmers I pass are about to plant, I feel like it’s harvest time; I’m rushing to make sure that everything is ready for the 3 months of summer to come. I have testing to muscle through, reading assessments to conduct, and final projects to put the polish on. The students, for their part, threaten to shut down in the face of the coming summer, and I have to keep pushing them on, reminding them that the year is not over yet.
In many ways, I wish the year were not over yet. Five wonderful teachers whom I have come to respect will be retiring this year. They are retiring for reasons that have nothing to do with their outstanding work and dedication, but rather because of a political trend that is best argued by pundits and lawyers, not by me. Over 100 years of combined teaching experience leaves my building this year and we are poorer for it. With all the talk about accountability, test scores, and the like, I just wish people remembered this simple truth: You learn from people you care about, and those people are not easily replaceable.
The year keeps trudging on; the leaves are getting bigger and the students more restless. And just like ending of every year, I look at the ever-growing to-do list and wonder how I will manage to get it all done.