The Back to School Blues
Summer....a time of rest and relaxation for teachers, of renewal and rejuvenation, self-care and catching up. All true - but few teachers I know actually take the whole summer off. I myself taught a graduate class, collaborated with colleagues, went to several meetings before our official back to school date, planned, and set up my classroom on my own time. Other teachers I know taught summer school, went to professional development institutes on their own dime, met and collaborated with other teachers, read books about teaching and education, and more. It is true that our schedules, for a brief time, are more flexible; we can use the bathroom calmly; we can eat meals at more regular times; we can sleep in. We also use this time to take care of many repairs, personal care, and medical appointments we can't get to during the school year: haircuts, dentist, all kinds of doctors, car repairs, house repairs and improvements, and so on.
We treasure our summers, and we need them. We need the physical break from teaching, and we very much need the mental breaks. We take our students home with us in our brains, constantly worrying about them and thinking up ways to reach them and strategies for helping them at school and home. By the last day of school in June, I am depleted.
As we begin this new school year, if you are not a teacher, keep us in mind. I know that many people have difficult and stressful jobs, and I don't mean to play the victim. But each year, teaching gets more and more challenging. Among the stressors we face are the ever-growing fears of armed attacks on schools; students' increasing anxiety and declining social-emotional state; human resources practices that cause alarm among teachers; families that are ready to blame teachers rather than forge relationships with them and work together towards the children's education.Sometimes, the public forgets that teachers are on the front lines, so to speak.
If you have children in school, please find ways to support their teachers. There are many things you can do without having to spend a lot of time. Here are some:
Teachers, I hope that you embark on this school year with renewed hope for our students and our schools, and with memories of a summer that fulfilled you in some way. As I start my 25th year of teaching, and 5th year of blogging, I still get nervous, and I still have hope.
Here we go again!