Friday, July 18, 2014

Theory 48: Never ever say, “At least you have summers off” to a schoolteacher.

Four. More. Days. 

My junior high colleagues and I have four more days of freedom before we report for duty and begin a new school year. Yes, I am complaining. No, I am not ashamed of my whining. It’s no mystery that women love to complain. We are detail-oriented, critical thinkers. Plus, we are the critical do-ers, so grant us our soap boxes from which we must speak, because as soon as we step off those soap boxes we have to mop them. Among women, I believe teachers are the best of the best when it comes to griping. Maybe I could hustle up a griping best practices in-service followed by a how to keep your employees from griping in-service. I can smell the green $$$!

I cannot tell you how many times last winter, as I collapsed after a one hour school-daycare-errands-home commute, I would say, “I am absolutely worn slap out” only to hear Tall Child say, “Well, you’re about to have three months off.”

Really, Tall Child? What kind of new math did you learn back in the day? My last day of school was May 28. My first day back is July 22. Now, I never have been able to read a clock or remember which months have thirty-one days, but I can promise you I don’t get three months off. Six weeks. That’s it in my district. Sounds eerily like maternity leave…feels like I’m recovering from birthing 230 freshmen. Did I tell you I’m pregnant with 230 more?

Thus, in honor of all the educators out there who must squeeze summer onion-dipped, beer-battered thighs back into their helk-acious school attire, I have made a few lists. Teachers, this bud of a blog by Bug is for you. Perhaps, when a moneyed friend from the corporate world, or a well-wishing housewife, says to you, “At least you have summers off” you can whip this list out and ‘splain to him/her that teachers need summers off to survive. But, be compassionate, because you may see those silver-liners in a cafeteria someday because, no matter how hard some people try in the beginning, they still end up teaching school. Trust me.
THIS Happy Camper... brought to you by THIS happy camper.

Things that WEAR teachers out so that they need (and deserve) summers off:
Doing paperwork for the sake of paperwork
Evaluations, which require eight page lesson plans when we can accomplish the same thing with a Post-It note
Holding our bladders for eight hours
Trying to decipher and accept Common Core Standards
Continuously counting the number of pieces of paper they print out of the printer that breaks all the time (I went 2500 over last school year!)
Explaining to dozens of students, dozens of times, “Yes, I got my haircut.”
Hearing co-workers’ personal problems. I apologize to all my work buddies in advance, but I have so much to tell you...
Bus duty
Hall duty
Cafeteria duty

Ballgame duty
Dance duty
Club advisory duty
Long commutes
Needy co-workers (again, sorry in advance)
Proofreading for grown-ups (I never could have published The Eye of Adoption with my beta reader, Red Hot Backspace)
Washing the two pair of black slacks every other night
Helping our children with schoolwork after teaching school all day
Frantic phone calls from our children’s schools and daycares
Sneaking out of school to take our children to the doctor
Daycare diapers, wipes, fees, cooties, papers

Jumping off each other's cars (all teacher cars should come with jumper cables and Triple AAA)
Packing lunches (or eating the same lunches as our second graders)
Interpreting one-thousand-word emails
Fixing spotty wireless
Red Hot to the rescue

Being teacher-broke and thus guiltily saying “no” to students who are fundraising to go on mission trips to cure or feed poor children in third world countries
Breaking up fights
Sitting in uncomfortable furniture

Papergates (for my NMS buddies)
Battling bladder infections (Can I get an "Amen" elementary friends?)
Going to graduate school
Fixing our bangs (or is that just me?)
Dieting: teachers are always on diets
Answering the question, “Did you get my email?” 
Negotiating with menopausal/PMS-ing colleagues
Acronyms, like, um,...N.A. (Red Hot Backspace, ask me about this one. Ha!), S.A.D, CCSS, NEA, TEA, PARCC, TCAP, NCLB, DECA, FBLA, EOC, TDOE, TEAM, TIGER, CTE, ...
Lovingly hosting impromptu 45 minute parent-teacher conferences at Wal-Mart
Staying nice all day and not losing your cool.

What teachers do during their, ahem, looooong summer “breaks”:
Feed other people’s animals
Work second jobs (often alongside or serving our students) so we can pay bills
     - mow grass
     - wait tables
     - clean cabins
     - nanny
     - coach
     - umpire/ref
     - host camps
     - work at Dollywood
     - sell stuff
     - rescue tourists from bumper boat and race track spin-outs
     - tutor
     - write books
Go to grad school
Run shuttle services to all kinds of practices.
Do the marine crawl under our front doors to avoid baby-sitting other people’s children
Teach vacation Bible school
Teach summer school
Get pap smears, breast exams, dental cleanings, colonoscopies, prostate exams, and vasectomies
Finish hours upon hours of unscheduled, mandatory and voluntary in-service
Attend professional development conferences
Serve in the National Guard

Things teachers dread about the start of school
Doing paperwork for the sake of paperwork
Being teacher-broke and spending our money on classroom supplies
Learning new software, again, like we do every August
Attending in-service meetings that soak up valuable time
Tolerating obnoxious teachers who won’t shut up during said in-service meetings
No more Bloody Mary’s at lunch
Taking showers every single day
Wearing different clothes every single day
Conforming to a handbook that has rules inside
Learning student names (then learning student names again after Christmas break – same students)
Saying the same thing one thousand times per hour per day per week per month.
Saying the same thing one thousand times per hour per day per week per month.
Saying the same thing one thousand times per hour per day per week per month.
Students, the printer name is MCS 211.
Students, the printer name is MCS 211.
Students, the printer name is MCS 211.
Missing our own children
Continuing graduate school coursework as we plan, teach, and grade
Moving to different classrooms
Finding out we have to teach brand new content
Sitting through student-orientations
Needing a change in scenery:
Which view is better? Compare and contrast...

~ ~ ~

All that griping aside, I truly believe that teaching is the most important profession in the world because it impacts every other profession. We have (scary?) powerful influence in what I think is a noble career. Think back to the people who inspired you as you grew up. My guess is that if you make a list of the ten people who inspired, encouraged, and loved you throughout your childhood, half or more of those people are teachers. I have been a corporate worker, a housewife, a teacher, and a writer.

To end on a positive note (since teachers must model appropriate attitudes toward learning for their students), I jotted a good little list of wonderful aspects of the teaching profession. I mean every single word.

Good things about being a teacher:

Man of Measure and Red Hot Backspace

Red Hot and Hot Chocolate

Students keeping us youthful and informed
Speedy work days
Rewarding interaction with young people

Colorful, dynamic, always changing work days
A calling, a ministry
The privilege of parenting children who need parenting
Socializing with interesting, talented, funny co-workers
Faculty: a second family
Working in a culture of life-long learning
Knowing exactly what we are supposed to do
Opportunities to be creative
Collaborating with bright professionals
Advocating for your school community
Enjoying the privilege of caring for young people and helping them reach their goals! 
Playing a personal role in students’ success stories

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot:
Fall break
Thanksgiving break
Christmas break
Spring break
Summer break

And the best of the best:


~ ~ ~

It’s your turn, teacher-readers. What do you dread? What do you love?# Post here in a comment or go to Theories: Size 12 on Facebook. Let’s cheer each other onward! Go buy some black britches and peanut butter crackers. It’s a new school year!

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Summer, Readers!

I hope you all had a great time July 4th! I just wanted to let you know that I didn't write a new post July 3rd because I was on Norris Lake and I won't post July 11th because I'll be spending time with my precious nieces Balloon Girl and Cake. Plus, July 19th is the last day for two of my grad school classes, so all my creative energy will go into writing my teaching philosophy, journal article abstracts, interviewing a veteran teacher, and curriculum and instruction class presentations. Yay. Me.

Anyway, my last diatribe, Theory 47: Chunky girls need love songs, too, especially in the summertime, is a hit. You should see it below this post. If not, here's the link:

HAPPY SUMMER! Live it up!

Sharky and Gnome certainly do.


Sharky explores the Little Greenbrier School

Sharky surveys the Little River in Metcalf Bottoms, GSM

Gnomes eat their donuts from the top down.

Rain delay. Brought his game inside. Geez.

See you next post (July 18). Until then, think outside the barn and eat as much onion dip as you want. It pairs well with Bota Box Pinot Grigio and Kroger brand rippled potato chips (saltier than the name brand).

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: