With the beginning of what poses to be a very difficult year in education in Nova Scotia upon us, I was quite taken by a moment of revelation the other day. My wife and I were sitting on our deck, soaking up the last vestiges of what was a marvellous Nova Scotia summer, when some friends asked me if I was ready to “go back” to school. My wife piped up “Go back? He never left”.
That gave me some pause. Much has been written in the media in the past few months about teachers and what they do. Some commentaries, like mine, have remained staunchly pro-teacher, while others have attempted to discredit the profession and what we stand for. Yet, as I sit here waiting for the horn to sound on this year’s race, I find myself considering this notion of “never having left” the school, and I realize it’s true. I am never very far from education. And I am far, far from alone.
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in several exciting projects related to education. Whether it was working with the Department of Education on curriculum or the NSTU on leadership, I was engaged in the profession all summer long. And, oddly enough, never once was I alone in the room. Never once was I the only teacher volunteering time and expertise. And never once was I the only teacher concerned about public education.
It is that piece that the public generally doesn’t see and the pundits often ignore. At this time of year, the connection is even more obvious. Drive by your local school during the last week of the summer. I guarantee that if the school is open, at least one of the cars in the parking lot belongs to a teacher, going in a few days early to get some preparation done. The one day that most of us are given for such tasks is not enough, particularly when most of that day is filled with meetings.
These, of course, are the overt signs that educators seldom completely “shut off”. The absolute explosion of technology in education has allowed teachers to prepare from home to some extent. I guarantee that for every teacher that spent summer vacation in the building, 10 spent time on-line, updating websites, posting new lessons or even, heaven forbid, taking a moment or two to read a blog.
So, to my mind, “School starts in September” is a bit of a misnomer. True, the kids do come back then. And true, there were a few moments this summer when I was actually the veritable poster boy for the “teacher on vacation” club. But, ultimately I don’t believe that any teacher actually “goes back” to school. We simply take ourselves off of pause.