I really am struggling with what to write about these past few days. I am in that spot of transition as the summer classes I teach ended last week and now new classes are slowly starting up over the next two weeks. This, in theory, means I should have more time to write and do silly things like get my hair cut, cook great meals, or sew my kids some new clothes; but none of this seems to be happening. I am feeling sort of "blah" and wishing for something, anything, exciting to happen. I decided to write on back-to-school since it's the RRblog topic of the week, and I always thrived on fulfilling assignments in the past, but we'll see how I do now. When I was a doctoral student I used to wonder how I would write without having deadlines, directions, and incentives, and part of me is still wondering that some four years later.
If I was still drinking cups of coffee and double mochas all day long as I used to do just a few short week ago, maybe I would be better prepared to rattle my brain pebbles around a bit more and come up with something smart, charming, witty, or endearing about back to school. When I was a kid, I do not recall fond memories of back-to-school, mostly because I was bored out of mind until about junior high. I went to a small, private elementary school, with just about 12-15 of us in a class. We used to try and drive the teachers and substitutes crazy with such ploys as coordinated book or pencil dropping off our desks at a pre-planned time. I guess the other kids were bored as well.
In junior high, I liked the science and journalism courses and of course co-ed PE was fun as well, especially when we square danced for a few weeks each year. This meant holding hands with the boys... R and K where are you now?
I did well in high school and earned an academic scholarship (well, 50% anyway) to college, but by the time my senior year rolled around, I was only taking 4 classes and I had a boyfriend in college, so I was already "gone" from school. I spent most of that back-to-school season of my senior year partying with my boyfriend at college, watching TV, and applying for colleges. I knew I wanted "out" and I really thought I was ready for the world...or at least the college world.
Back-to-school should be a time of change, transformation, new clothes, and exciting beginnings. I should feel inspired to write about change, growth, shedding of old leaves, apple cider, darker mornings, and cool nights snuggled under down comforts. I should be changing out the clothes from one season to the next, but it's too hot to do that. I should be shopping for Christmas presents already, but I am feeling broke with the furloughs and one of my classes being cut.
I remember there being something romantic and exciting about back to school when I was younger and, well, in school. Actually, I was in school working toward my PhD until I was about 38, so I had many, many years of back to school experience as a student and as a teacher along the way as well. Somehow that back-to-school inspiration has jumped over me this back-to-school season.
As I have gotten older though, of course, nothing now more exciting then piles of laundry, strange weather in Northern California, and lack of ripe tomatoes in the garden have signaled the joy of back to school. I suppose if I had a real break between my classes, I'd have time to create joy around returning to the virtual chalkboard of my online courses. But adjunct online teachers often no there is no real break from teaching; many of us, even those with regular teaching gigs, are constantly out there trying to hustle up the next course and make sure our platters and our bank accounts remain well balanced.
Even with back to school for my preschooler, and as my duties on the school board swing into full motion, I am not thrilled about back to school. I am a little worried about the future of our educational systems in California and how they will survive, but is that really a back to school topic we want to discuss on this blog? Furloughs and 9.23% pay cut is not the sort of back-to-school joy that makes me want to keep writing and writing. It makes me want to scream and protest and demand a recount on the furlough issue because who in their freaking right mind would ever say, sure I will do the same job, over a shorter period of time, and for less pay. No problem-o.
So, as back to school season started, I quit one of my Cal. State teaching jobs, mostly because of the commute (the one non-online class I teach) and the pay cut issues. The state forced my hand and there it is. If anybody knows of a college or learning institute employer that actually pays educators well and values supportive interactions with their learning community, please let me know. But, if this sort of academic utopia exists, I am sure there is a line around the block for people just waiting to pick up applications.
Well, so, anyway, writers block, stumbling around here, what was I writing about, oh yes...
I am of course glad that my "almost" 4 year old is back to pre-school and I love watching her learn to play soccer with her team. She is the smallest and the youngest and she plays with both boys and girls... we working on her tough girl persona for the games. I also love looking forward to next year's back to school endeavors, as my youngest one will go into pre-school and the soccer tough girl will enter kindergarten. I am dreaming of cool September mornings to myself after the girls are dropped off at school; sipping a chai tea at the coffee shop, taking a long run along the river road, or going to the coast for a good uphill adult only hike top my list for future back-to-school celebrations. I am watering my money tree and waiting for the job offers to roll in.
Back-to-school; let's be grateful for our own educational experiences and let's take action to create better academic systems for the future.
As always your,