I’m not going to lie*. Part of me is dreading the beginning of the school year. A big part. I’ve been ignoring it a bit, but the feeling creeps up behind me when I least expect it–kind of like a rogue wave crashing down on you when your back is turned toward the ocean. You’re enjoying the feel on the sun on your shoulders, blissing out on the mellow day, when….WHAM! That realization strikes: School starts in just a few weeks.
As that date looms ever nearer, I know that it’s the mornings I will miss the most, these carefree summer mornings. I love to get up early and enjoy my coffee, catch up on e-mails and Facebook, write, and, if the mood strikes, go for a run. I hang out on the back porch. I take pictures. I don’t look at the clock. I’m just not ready to lose these slow-paced mornings when each day unfolds at its own glorious pace. I know how they will change once school starts: I can feel it in my bones.
And yet, a significant part of me is excited to get back to school. I love working with my students and my colleagues. I love the excitement of learning and growing together. I just am not looking forward to the relentlessness of the pace. I don’t want to spend every day working, or feeling like I should be working. I don’t want to start each day rushing, feeling like I’m already behind.
Part of me hesitated to share this post, because I feel like I’m a “bad” teacher for feeling this way–like if I were truly passionate and committed, I would only feel excited about the approaching year. I’d be brimming with ideas and enthusiasms. Honestly, I do have those feelings as well. I know that once I’m in my classroom and getting to know my students, I’m going to be happy to be there. I do have new ideas and things I can’t wait to share with my class. But I also am feeling very protective of my personal life and of the ways I nurture myself and enjoy time with family and friends. The intensity of teaching allows for so little of that.
This is my tenth year teaching. Before I started, I knew that balancing home and school would be very challenging. I’d heard about the time demands and stress, I knew my own nature, and I recognized already that this would be a difficult balancing act for me. It was then, and it still is now.
There’s a teacher I know who used to work on Friday night straight through. I mean straight through. She worked until she was tired, slept a while and then continued to work until sometime Saturday morning when she left. Apparently, this was her solution to the problem of work spilling into her weekend. Due to changes in the school’s alarm system, she can no longer do this, and I’m not sure what her current approach is, but isn’t it crazy that part of me sees this as a viable solution? My own solution has been to wake up ever earlier as the year proceeds (and the work piles up) so that I have some down time each morning before I start working. But waking up at 4:30 or even 4:15 perpetuates a vicious cycle. If I’m up that early, and don’t get home til 5:30 or so, I have no extra energy to work at home during the evening. If I don’t work in the evening, I feel like I need to fit in a fair chunk of work in the morning. See how that works? I’m starting to feel like I’m in a Laura Numeroff book! So, instead of just complaining about it, how do I change this? I don’t have an answer, but, believe me, I’m thinking a lot about it!
So, yeah, I’m feeling that “August is the Sunday night of the Summer for Teachers” thing. I’m not gonna lie.
*A week or two ago, Linda Mitchell hosted Poetry Friday Roundup and offered a wonderful array of starting lines for people to use in poems. This one has stuck with me and I’m using it to begin this slice instead. Thanks, Linda!