Stow the Flag

My first principal had a very specific ritual that needed to be completed at the end of every school year. No teacher would be heading home for the summer unless this one important task was completed. Every teacher was required to take down their US Flag, carefully roll it up, and store it neatly out of site. Once this task was complete- you were dismissed and your summer was underway.

I don’t know if many administrators require this, but I maintained the tradition even when I worked for other principals. It symbolized a break from the learning but also a commitment that soon the flag would return- just like the educators and the learners. Few careers have this continual sense of renewal- of starting over- of getting it right this year- that teaching has.

Now I’m out of the classroom and the traditions and routines of teaching have been left behind. I read the posts of teacher colleagues on Facebook and see that Flags are being stowed for the summer both literally and figuratively. Another summer starts.

Time to recharge. Reconnect with family and friends. Days race by. July paycheck. Reflect on the year. Read, learn, … the itch returns.

And before you know it an August day arrives and you find yourself in your classroom. Desks are arranged, fresh butcher paper is stapled to bulletin boards, plans are made, and the flag signals a safe and optimistic return.

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