When I was a younger teacher, I would stagger into a break feeling exhausted. I remember a recurring dream my first few years of teaching: I was drowning, thrashing to keep my head above water. I’d wake up gasping for air. My subconscious is not subtle. I’d hit winter break or spring break or a long weekend and just crash. It didn’t matter how many research papers I brought home, they’d sit in my briefcase until the Sunday night before we returned to school.
All day Sunday, I’d feel guilty, kicking myself for not getting my work done earlier. I started dreading Sundays for the manic grading I tried to complete and for the fact that I’d be returning to a school that was crushing my spirit (see “Sub-totals”).
As I’ve gained experience, I’ve become more disciplined. Over most breaks, I set aside an hour each day for schoolwork. There’s always work: grading, responding to emails, lesson planning, etc. I sit with a cup of dark coffee and chip away at the pile of work that’s always there.
Usually, I feel proud of myself, proud of my self-discipline. Dedication is definitely one of my core values.
But, this one hour every day (I do take Christmas off) is starting to be less attractive. It’s better than the craziness of the marathon grading of those old Sunday nights, but it ends up feeling like I have no breaks. No rest.
We’re four days away from Spring Break. COVID means we’re not really going anywhere, maybe a few day trips. But in this year when everything is just a little more work, I need some rest.
I’ve hear some teachers are able to actually not work on a break. I think I’d feel more stressed to come back to 200+ emails and who know how many late assignments to grade. I would like to feel a little more “caught up” after the break.
Here’s what I’m considering. Maybe I’ll dedicate a couple of days at the front end of break to grading and planning and then shut it down for the rest of break. I imagine I’ll triage my emails to keep it manageable, but I’ll do my best not to get too caught up in responding to stuff. If students turn in late work, good for them. They can wait to hear back from me since I had to wait to receive it in the first place.