School begins in 4 short days, but miraculously I'm feeling enthused. This is not a new feeling for me. Each year about 3 weeks before school starts, the feeling of dread leaves my body and I become psyched for the new school year. For me each new school year is a chance to redeem myself for the perceived failures of the past year. Admittedly there are many weaknesses in my teaching, but each year I give a whole-hearted attempt to recreate myself into a teacher I can be proud of. Then by November, I am so overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF I'm not accomplishing that I plead to the Teaching Gods to just let the year be over. About a month ago I made a comparison between teaching and painting a room. Here it goes. Most teachers begin a new school year with so much enthusiasm that it leaks onto the walls and bulletin boards of their classrooms in the form of acronyms such as TEAM- Together Everyone Achieves More or alliterations such as Mrs. Bennett's Busy Bees. Teachers write plans, set goals, and purchase everything necessary to make each year more successful than the last. Just as teaching begins with a dream, so does painting a room. Homeowners first imagine what they want the room to look like, then they go to the store and buy all the necessary supplies. They are excited, enthused, and prepared to do the work necessary to achieve their dream of a freshly painted room. Both teaching and painting a room requires preparation. For teachers it is writing lesson plans, and for homeowners it is placing painters tape around every window, door, and piece of molding. Now just as with teaching, homeowners don't quite foresee the amount of work ahead of them. Some homeowners may be overly courageous and decide to tape off stripes in order to create a more dramatic effect. Teachers do the same thing. For example they may begin the school year by sending home a newsletter every week, but by October they are lucky if a newsletter goes home once a month. Mid way through the school year many teachers lose their enthusiasm and wish to goodness that someone else would come in and take over. The same goes for painting a room. I don't know anyone who didn't lose his or her enthusiasm half way through a painting job. Then it is time for the big reveal. For teachers this is when state test scores come in, and undoubtedly there will be students they didn't reach but should have. For homeowners the reveal comes when the tape is pulled away. It is then when they will see things such as drips, paint on the trim, or missing spots of paint. Both painters and homeowners will make excuses like, "I didn't have any parental support" or "I should have done two coats." The fact is that for most of us we go into both full steam ahead, and the truth is that very few finish with any steam left. Sad but true. Luckily there is always a new train coming, so I'm hopping aboard August 20th, and riding it till my steam runs out!