Well, the first quarter of this school year is officially over. Report cards go home next week and we’re starting with new standards tomorrow. I’ve worked incredibly hard this past semester and I’ve spent a lot of time planning and grading and planning even more, and I can honestly say that I am exhausted.
This past week was kind of crazy — it was a short week since there was a teacher workday on Friday, plus our principal left us for another school, and the kids seemed just a little off with their behavior.
Even though students weren’t in the building on Friday, I still was at school from 7:30am until 5pm, and I worked the majority of that time (I admit, there was a good thirty or forty minutes during the afternoon when the teacher who had her baby came back — WITH HER BABY — for a little visit) on organizing, cleaning, data synthesizing, professionally developing, and planning. When I left school, all I could think about was how tired I felt, how cloudy everything seemed. Upon further reflection of my sleepy state, I have come to the conclusion that I feel as though I have hit a wall.
I need a break.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I love my job and I love my kids. I enjoy going to work. I like the people with whom I work. I don’t even really mind planning that much. What’s getting me is the fact that I have been going non-stop since Labor Day. I haven’t had one break since then, and let’s be serious, the weekend is never enough time to recuperate from long weeks of teaching.
I’m sure there are many of you reading this thinking, “Well what’s the big deal? I haven’t had a break from work since Labor Day either, so what?”
Well, let me tell you.
First of all, I bet you don’t have to take much work home. I have a class full of 25 eight-year-olds and I give them homework and other assignments throughout the week. If I spend even just five minutes grading each of their assignments, that’s over two hours of extra work I have to do at home or some time after school on top of getting things ready for the next day. And that’s just for grading ONE assignment! Someone said to another teacher friend of mine that teachers “bring this upon themselves” because we “wait to grade papers.” If you have a brain, you can see that this is not the case.
Secondly, I bet you aren’t having to explain complex concepts to children. I’m sure you know your multiplication facts and how to find the main idea of a text, but you couldn’t do that when you were a child without having someone break it down and teach it to you. As adults, we know a bunch of short cuts for how to do so many things but we forget that we had to first learn the foundational skills to get us to where we are. This is my job.
Thirdly, I bet you get a lunch break, or any other kind of break, during your work day. I spend a total of maybe 30-40 minutes during my eight hour school day to myself, and even then it isn’t really to myself! I spend my lunch with third graders, followed by recess. I think I’ve finished my lunch a total of two times this whole quarter. My whole “period” that I have to myself is filled with making copies or getting things ready for the afternoon.
Friends, I am just in dire need of a recharge. As I’ve said so many times before, this job is incredibly taxing. I’m working really hard on maintaining a balance in my life with school and everything else, and I honestly think it’s working. It’s like I feel extra good playing guitar or running now. A dear friend of mine is coming to town from London at the end of this week and I’ve got my 5K to look forward to, and I think a combination of those things will help push me through this week. I’m definitely still pressing on and am grateful for all of the fantastic support in my life, and I know things will get easier once report cards are over and November hits (because let’s be serious, there’s only one full week of school in November and that is AWESOME).
I work hard so I can be my best. Actually, I blame my dad for passing on his hardworking, dedicated genes to me because I know they’ve partly made me a workaholic. I wanted to be a teacher so I could instill change in the lives of children so that they could ultimately have something better for themselves — this is why I do what I do. I know I chose this career, but sometimes I just really think this career chose me.
Here’s to a marvelous Monday coming our way tomorrow!