Staying motivated in the summer when you’re a teacher is, well, a challenge in itself. All year you’re focused on your students’ goals, and your own professional goals. Then suddenly, you have three months off and no kids (or parents or boss) that you need to account for. On one hand, it’s pretty awesome to be so free; on the other hand, it requires serious willpower to get out of bed.
People who aren’t teachers often don’t get it. I literally had to explain to a group of professional non-educators the other day that that teachers just don’t have a “slow” time. We are pedal to the metal at every moment. They kept throwing out different scenarios:
Them: What about September or October? Haven’t things calmed down once the kids are in school?
Me (stifling laughter): Um no. We are setting annual goals, having Back to School Nights, Carnivals, fundraisers for the year. There are fall sports to coach and beginning of the year reading/math/writing assessments. Not to mention Halloween…and grades.
Them: Ok, what about November or December? When all that stuff is over?
Me: Parent/teacher conferences, holiday parties, choir performances. Principals have evaluations due before Winter Break…basketball games…the occasional snow day makes it worse.
Them: But surely January! When you get back?
Me: State testing runs consistently until May, in addition to winter assessments, more grades and —
Them: Ok, ok. Spring. You have a spring break, right?
Me: Spring assessments, work samples for each kid in each subject, more evaluations due. Outdoor School, field trips, field day, Run for the Arts; some of us do spring conferences. Then there’s graduation, last day of school. Final grades. We. Don’t. Stop.
Wherein I got some blank stares. When’s our slow time? RIGHT NOW. When were aren’t getting paid (that’s right, we don’t get paid in the summer, contrary to what you’ve heard).
Most teachers I know use this time to travel or do projects at home. The money for summer school dried up years ago so that’s not much of an option. I don’t have kids, and yet sometimes taking a shower by dinner time is still challenging. (Pathetic, I know.)
What I’m saying is, I keep looking at my list, but somehow helping other people with their busy lives is easier than committing to my own goals. In the last week, I helped my dad run errands, worked with a teacher on her lesson planning, helped a friend move, and painted a different friend’s new house. I try to have a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table when Thor comes home. Then we spent the weekend meeting at my in-law’s farm for the holiday. So, like, I’m doing stuff…just not my necessarily my own stuff.
Thus I proclaim this week: MY WEEK. I’ve got my posted goals here, and a slew of other to-do’s taped to the refrigerator. Helping other people with their stuff is enjoyable because it’s a positive way to fill the long summer days, but realistically I have to remember that I have priorities, too. Important priorities. You know, like hosting a summer bonfire and learning to double dutch.