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I'm Back at School and Already on Vacation

I probably look like a terrible teacher. I took three days off work on the first week of school (for teachers) to go on vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Not to mention, I left my husband and two children at home.

It helps to know that one of my student's parents is sponsoring the trip.

The trip was actually her gift to me. She told me during the final parent conference of last school year that she would be attending a corporate meeting in Cancun, which came with an all-expense trip for a guest. And guess who she asked to join her?

She and I have worked closely together to meet the needs of her autistic son for the past four years, and she expressed her gratitude for my service by offering me this tropical vacation. Free. Round-trip airfare. Ground transportation. A five-star resort. Ocean-view suite with balcony. All food and drink included. Reduced-rate spa. How could I refuse?

The truth is, I've watched my whole school staff gather around her child to provide him with excellent academic and socio-emotional care. The inclusion and pull out learning support teachers and I have met many days to discuss his performance and growth in the classroom. (I mentioned him at the end of my post, Parent Conferences: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly).

I've watched her boy's transformation from living in a tightly bound cocoon to becoming an award-winning ballroom dancer, soloist, guitarist and a social butterfly among his trusted friends.

So while I can't take all the credit for her son's amazing success, I have no problem with accepting the reward for it!

Besides, the first week back to school is typically full of boring teacher orientation meetings that review school policies and procedures. Except, I don't work at a typical school.

Monday's meeting was filled with fun team-building activities, scenario role-playing, and pair-share-type reflections. We wrapped the session with each staff member dancing down a Soul Train line to receive our complementary, newly designed school t-shirt.

On Tuesday, teams picked from a pile of recyclable trash and competed to create a tower that symbolized an aspect of our school. For better or worse, several staff members also spent 30 solid minutes at the mic doing karayoke. My principal did an interesting rendition of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)." (Teachers recorded it on our cell phones to use as a bargaining chip at the next annual review).

We actually did discuss some important school business between the frolicking, which made the PowerPoint slides about policies and procedures a little more engaging.

But the real "fun" won't start until the middle of next week when the students return to school. "Fun" in the pure sense of the word but also as a euphemism for the kind of school drama that makes you laugh to keep from crying. If you're a middle school teacher, you know exactly the kind of "fun" I'm talking about.

But for the next three days I am going to try forget about school, to set my thoughts on more leisurely things. Hot sand pushing up between my toes. Small talk in broken Spanish. Visions of the Mayan ruins. Lobsters. Shrimp. Delectable desserts.

Three days of paradise before the "fun" begins ... what a lovely gift.

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