“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”  That’s what teachers think on the first drive back to school.

My friends cheer.  They call the end of summer something else–the close of “Pain in the Ass Season.”  They call it that because everyone says I’m a pain in the ass calling, emailing, texting or trying to make plans with them while they have to work.  Pain in the Ass Season makes people think teachers suntan half the year and work till two the rest–with vacations in between making us even bigger pains in the asses.

That’s not really accurate, though.  Most teachers start preparing for the next year the moment the previous year is done.  We don’t take summers off to rub it in your face.  We usually have to go to professional development, write curriculum, or prepare what we’re teaching the next year even though we usually don’t know what that is.  Many teachers work summer jobs which keeps us from bothering you and also gives us money to spend on our classrooms when Pain in the Ass Season officially ends.

Now it’s fall.  We won’t disturb you again.  You can be at peace once more.

My room’s been filled with freshmen checking out the scene hoping I won’t make their four years of high school awful. They expect homework, tests, sitting in desks and behaving–all the things we enforce so students can do well on The Tests, get scholarships to college, and maybe give you the right change back if they work at the grocery store after school.

I hope they’re not bored.  I hope they find passion, desire for learning, skills that matter, and a love for research that goes well beyond the scope of what I teach.

Nobody comes to my school for social studies.  We’re a career and technical school–kids want to learn things like biotech and underwater robotics.

But I teach social studies, which the world should value more. “Why do we gotta learn about dead people?” one girl asked.

It’s not just dead people… it’s skills living people use, too.

One time I landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, rather than Charlottesville, Virginia.  If I’d paid more attention to my own geography class, I’d have known where I was.  When people learn social studies, they get lost or they don’t understand each other.  Countries go to war.

There’s always the adage that history repeats itself–but because we’re so busy with the English and Math standards history’s not cool these days.

“It’s not repeating itself–I never learned it in the first place.”  Good point.   Social studies is the second cousin of the “important classes.”  That’s okay with me.  Sometimes it’s best to be on the bench instead of in the game.  I don’t have to play so hard against Finland and China. I just have to drink coffee and hope I don’t land in the wrong airport again.

I taught a good bunch of teens today.  Most of them left with smiles on their faces even though they had some pretty candid discussions.

“Is your government serving you?  Does your vote matter?”

Some kids said their vote didn’t matter. Some said it did.  One kid cursed Obamacare while another brought up Donald Trump.  A kid in the front row asked why veterans never get treated properly–why they don’t get the respect or care they deserve from the system.  One girl said “Bernie Sanders would do a better job than Trump or Clinton.”  Then, she gave lots and lots of facts.

Teens have opinions when you pay attention–most people in position to make change don’t listen to them, which I think is a mistake.  This group has the most discretionary income of all Americans, and they’re the ones that control YouTube.  It is an error of judgement to underestimate them.  They’re the ones–I hope–that’ll dig us out in a rapidly changing world.

Fall is here.  Classes are in session.  Game on.

Who said school has to be boring?

I drove home. I go to bed at 8PM most nights.  I’m tired–this keeps me out of your hair even more.  Pain in the Ass Season is most definitely over–but that is because Inspiration Season’s just begun.