It happens to me every year about this time the feel-good buzz of a school year’s end inevitably changes my outlook about the prior 35 weeks. Happy memories are expressed in end-of-school projects, field trips create great photo ops and lasting bonds, little gifts come from students, and the emotional high of graduation dominates any recollection of awful student behaviors, embarrassing moments, or negative peer encounters.
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I’ve tried battling this “Pollyanna Syndrome” for many years, and occasionally my will has worked against the onslaught of positive vibes that flood us every May or June, keeping reality in check. But I admit it, I’m a sucker for happiness, and all the goodies of an academic year’s end definitely push my smiley-face button. Those darned endorphins come flooding again, filling all the right spots in my brain, and I’m hooked for yet another turn of the calendar.
Maybe if I worked at schools where the end of things seemed like the fulfillment of a jail sentence, I could better battle joy. I could look back and say, “Well, I’m certainly glad that’s over.” But truthfully, every year I’m reminded of the fun times and cool experiences we’ve had, and my students win me over again.
Not to be cheesy, but it’s like one of those “teacher movie moments;” you know the kind – where an inspirational educator has labored all year with heartfelt devotion, and his or her troublesome students provide some touching gesture to keep the teacher returning. Sometimes it’s a token demonstration of mastery; other times, it’s a badly written note or a small treasure that has a deeper meaning. Whatever the source, it makes it hard to simply throw away the profession and choose private sector monotony. The same thing is true for educators also works for students- Intrinsic rewards keep us hooked. Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Truth About What Motivates Us points to scientific research that validates this very human response. We are little better than Pavlov’s proverbial dogs – the bell rings at the end of the year and we virtually salivate with positivity.
So, whether it’s the parents’ tears at graduation, the last graded essay in someone’s portfolio, or a thank-you trinket that shows real consideration, the end of the school year keeps giving its fair share of reasons to come back. Even in the face of foolish and cyclical bureaucracy, decreasing respect from the public, and idiotic mandates from non-educators, I keep renewing my certificate and signing on for another tour of duty. I suppose once I’ve done this another twenty times or so, the magic will wear off. But that year isn’t this one. Or the next one.
[bctt tweet=”The end of the school year keeps giving its fair share of reasons to come back.” username=”@EducatorsRoom”] Bring on August!