Column: What a newly former teacher won’t be doing

Lindsay DeFrates

Lindsay DeFrates
Staff Photo |

It is the beginning of August, and even though the sun is setting just a little earlier every day, my blood pressure remains remarkably healthy.

The warmest nights of summer are here, but this time without the cold-sweat dreams where I watch helplessly as a room full of teenagers degenerates into total anarchy once they realize my utter lack of preparation and pants.

For the first time in six years, I am not spending my evenings and weekends thumbing through old lesson plans from obese three-ring binders or trying to remember the title of one of an infinite number of Google docs.

School starts in three weeks, but I am not calling my peers for evening meetings about activities at the beginning of the year that take more time to plan than a royal wedding.

I am not anxiously waiting to get a peek at the daily schedule for our first teacher prep week.

I am not wondering how many paid hours it will give us to batten down our classrooms and curriculum for the flood of 100 or more summer-wild adolescents.

I am not then counting those hours on one hand.

I am not pulling a thousand staples out of drywall with a blunt staple remover. Nor am I prowling the office supply cabinets, hoping for the miraculous appearance of a new one.

I am not writing my name under six others queued up to use the laminator on a Sunday afternoon.

I am not lamenting my total lack of spatial sense as I randomly tack a few well-meaning posters above the whiteboard.

I am not wondering if I am really any good at this.

In a few weeks, I will not be engaging in long days of professional development — fully in the morning and sleepily after lunch.

I will not be passionately filling the margins of my planner with life-altering notes about management, assessment and pedagogy that I promise I will definitely re-read this year.

I will not be making another passive-aggressive document of all 214 things we have to do each week that have nothing to do with teaching.

I will not be muttering quietly to myself about the new state requirements for measuring and defining the success of students and teachers with more and more objective metrics.

I will not then be successfully rationalizing those requirements to myself in order to stay sane and productive.

I will not be wondering how the incredible people surrounding me in those meetings can possibly love, live, eat and breathe everything about creating student success, despite benefits that are cut more each year in directly inverse relationships to the amount of paperwork, scrutiny and extra projects they must undertake to meet a senseless, unrealistic standard set down by men and women who have never spent a day in the classroom.

And I will probably not be plotting a hostile takeover of the state Board of Education complete with grass-roots social media campaigns, picket signs and aggressive Sharpie techniques.

I will not be constantly wondering if I care enough.

And then I will not be reminding myself that all this stress and self-doubt always melts the moment students enter my classroom.

I will not memorize 89 names in two days and the other 21 by the end of the week.

I will not stand in the hall, greeting and meeting these young people at the beginning of a year where their selves are starting to take the shape they will have for the rest of their lives.

I will not feel the potential of each student sizzling in the their seats.

I will not smile to myself as I create dastardly plans to wring the last possible ounce of that potential from all of them in our limited time together.

I will not get to be surprised every day by their immeasurable creativity, originality and determination.

Instead, I will be working part-time at a wonderful nonprofit (Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers), supporting its mission of stewardship for our cherished outdoor spaces, and working to instill a sense of ownership for those spaces in the youth of our valley.

I will be getting paid for the extra hours I work.

I will be able to be more present with my two sons and my husband, instead of constantly worrying that I am shortchanging both my family and my students because there just isn’t enough to go around right now.

I will write a little more.

I will be buying a lot of ramen and beans and possibly poaching community gardens.

But I will not be teaching.

Lindsay DeFrates lives in Carbondale and writes, rafts, and raises boys.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.