There are all kinds of lists out there for teachers, and some of mine have a lot in common with them. Teaching is a bizarre profession with a lot of misconceptions, so it can be difficult for people to understand the ramifications of making thousands of decisions quickly on a daily basis.
Summer “off” isn’t really just a two and a half month alcohol binge, although there is plenty of that. We NEED the time off to decompress, recharge and rejuvenate so we can do it all again with enthusiasm next September.
And as I finally emerge from the numbness associated with the end of the school year, this is what I’m looking forward to:
1. Being able to use the restroom whenever I need to.
No joke. This one makes a lot of lists for good reason. Four years of college and a Master’s and I still have to ask permission to go to the restroom during a class period. And before you ask why not go between classes, well, duh. However, kids tend to stick around and ask questions after class, or kids walk in as the bell rings to ask questions before class, or you have that class from hell that you can’t walk away from for a single second. At one point during testing, there was no one to relieve me so I could relieve myself and I was desperately texting for someone to help me out. I’m looking into Depends for next year.
2. No more lunch packing.
I HATE packing lunches. My kids’ as well as my own. The building temperature varies day to day, so I might pack comfort food, but then the heat is blasting and there’s no way last night’s meatloaf is even close to appealing. Or pack a cold sandwich when the wind seeps through the cracks around the windows and all I want is soup.
3. Eating lunch (and every other meal) whenever I damn well feel like it.
Breakfast? Maybe. Scarfed at 7:15 before first hour. At work my lunch is at 10:15. As in one hour and 45 minutes before noon. Do I really want lunch food at this time? Not really. When school gets out at 2:40 I’m starving. It’s just longtime AARP members and teachers who are clamoring for dinner at 4:30.
4. Drinking because I want to, not because I… um… have to.
Ok, that makes me sound like I have a problem, and I do. Sometimes these kids and parents and administration drive me up the fucking WALL! So yes, I will plan to have a drink after school. I will look forward to it like a nomad in the desert looks forward to an oasis. Sometimes it’s a “You made it through the week!” celebratory drink, and others times it a “I need to forget this fucking day even happened” drink.
5. Not having to see THAT class anymore.
There’s always one class, one kid, one parent, whatever, that constantly gives you hives and nightmares. In my case, this year, it was THAT class. Not everyone was bad in that class, but the group of a-holes was big enough the affect what we were doing every single day. I had multiple seating charts, multiple activities, and multiple migraines. And of course, this is the one class that had 36 students and every one of them showed up every fucking day. Some because they were court appointed to do so. It will take me every part of the summer to forget those bastards and regain hope again.
6. No more endless, pointless, meetings.
I realize this is true in most professions. The word “meeting” is synonymous with “time you won’t get back.” In education, they seem to always take the last Professional Development day to go through an insane amount of training about a process you won’t see or think about again for the next several months. This year it was how to use data from ability tests that were given in the FALL. Excellent. I’ll make sure to apply that when next year’s students test, but by then we’ll give a completely different test.
7. Putting on the “face” every morning.
This is hard because I don’t mind putting on the “face” usually, but over the course of the school year it gets absofuckinglutely exhausting. The “face” is one of patience, understanding, empathy, compassion, humor and focus. I know I have to project that on a daily basis in order to do my job well, but there are only so many stories I can take about why your homework isn’t done (again), how cute your kitten is after seeing the 500th picture, what you saw on YouTube last night about 9/11 being a hoax, or listening to you explain your dreams for going to UM when it’s your second time in 10th grade English. By May, IDGAF and I won’t be able to fake that I do. I will pretend again in September.
8. Reading what I want to read, not what I have to read.
Some are classics. I will never tire of Macbeth and all the current references that play offers. Or discussing “Dog Lab” with my AP students. But Romanticism? Blech. Pastoral poetry? Yawn. “I would make you a belt of straw”? No thanks. Have dinner ready when I get home and maybe we’ll talk. And just because I’m an English teacher, it doesn’t mean I have read every single piece of literature out there including every recent book published. Summer is to give my brain a break and read mindless drivel until I regain some sanity. What am I reading right now? The Harry Potter series. For about the tenth time.
9. The alarm. At 5am.
There is nothing worse than being up late at night, waking in the middle of the night, or just going to bed at a decent time knowing that your alarm will go off in just a few hours. It’s awful. I envy the people who are able to work out before heading to work, and I hate that I NEVER get to see my own kids until after work. Of course, alarms will be set for certain things, but if I’m up too early I can always…
I love naps. I will choose sleep over food. The freedom of being able to say, “I’m going upstairs to lie down for a while” seriously makes life worth living. Ginger and the cats oblige me and it’s just the three of us falling asleep to Flea Market Flip. Best part? NO ALARM! I might wake in one hour or three. And it will always be glorious!
Sometimes I hate my job, but I absolutely love what I do. The summer is time for me to erase some of the worry lines, re-discover my genuine laughter, let loose and recharge. I cherish every summer with my own kids to slow things down a little.
And now it’s time for a cocktail. Cheers!