So most people in education do not base their calendar on the new year that begins on January 1st. Rather, our “new year” starts a week or two before Labor Day. It’s not necessarily a new season, as summer will probably last into mid September. But it marks the end of a season for us teachers. The end of a space in our lives when we thought about ourselves for more than five minutes, when we had time to enjoy our lunch without making copies, and we didn’t feel as if what we did that day wasn’t enough.
Recently I heard an interview about how teachers should not have summers off, as no other job in the world gets such a long break. While the gentleman had many good points, especially those regarding students who just don’t benefit from three months away from the one place that they are safe, I wondered if I would actually survive the year if I hadn’t had this break. I ended the school year very sick. Tension headaches, anxiety, you name it. When someone hasn’t seen you in a while and the first thing they say is, “you look terrible,” you know something is wrong. I can’t imagine being ready to do it all over again without a moment to recharge my batteries.
I often hear people say, “must be nice to have your summers off.” In the past I’d respond to these people with a miffed, “what summer?” As I’ve always had to have a second job in the summers to make ends meet. But this year is the first summer since I started teaching that I haven’t worked. And it has been amazing. Everyone should have time to breathe…not just teachers. Though, I will say teachers tend to go full force once our “new year” begins until we are haggard in June and wonder what happened to 9 months (and where did those 10 new gray hairs came from when we look in the mirror?).
While chatting with a friend this summer, we tried to figure out what made summer different from other parts of the year. Besides the obvious, we began to conclude that it’s not simply having time off. Because if this were the case, then weekends would suffice. But something about our summer time was different and could possibly be brought into our school year so that June doesn’t find us at our wits end and ready to collapse.
In efforts to bring the summer into my school year, here are a few of my new school year’s resolutions:
- Eat breakfast every day…and it doesn’t count if it’s 30 minutes before lunch!
- Take time away from work. Turn it off.
- Write as much as I can. About whatever I want.
- Do yoga.
- Eat food that is grown in that season.
- Go for a bike ride or a walk or a hike up a mountain.
- Get enough sleep.
- Do nothing. And like it.
- Take time for family. A phone call, a letter, an email.
- Remember that what I did today is enough.
© 2013 D. Willson