Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reflective Teaching: Day 27, Days Off!

Day 27--What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

"Everybody's working for the weekend" says that classic Loverboy song.  All week long I work late into the night grading papers (my sister tells me that I can avoid that by assigning no work; however, I think that my administration would frown on that), and I look forward to Saturday morning when I can sleep well past my normal weekly alarm.  However, as we teachers know, there is no real "weekend" for the teacher during the school year.  I don't know how it is for other teachers, but I also spend a lot of my time during school holidays on my work, too.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring Break--I always have work to do.  I grade papers, plan lessons, and look up information to share with my students.  The summer is not always a break, either.  Before I took over the Intro to Sign class, I took classes during the summer to prepare for that.  I know a lot of teachers who use their summers for similar reasons or to advance their degrees.

I always have a bag filled with grading over the weekend, not to mention the lesson planning that goes on for the next week.  While I do take advantage of sleeping in on Saturday and the requisite afternoon nap on Sunday, I spend most of my time on my weekends doing things for work.  I have to do laundry and and dishes and clean house like everyone else, too.  I don't know how teachers who have children get anything done on the weekends.  I don't have children, and I don't get everything done.  (Confession time: I still have Easter decorations on my kitchen table because I've not taken the time to put them away.  Why I didn't do that over summer is beside the point.)

I saw this picture (to the left) on Pinterest, and I totally agree with it.  Especially when I'm grading essays, I'd love another full day off during the weekend.  I'm not alone, either, because Monday morning when I am asking my colleagues about their weekends, they often say, "It wasn't long enough."  I'm willing to bet that teachers are not the only people who think this.  I know that other professionals work weekends--I'm not saying teachers have a monopoly on that at all.  However, most professionals have that 9-5 thing going on (insert Dolly Parton song here), and they can leave their work at work and not have to bring the work home unless they are wanting to get ahead or working to impress their bosses.

While I do have to bring work home, I do also try to get some down time.  If I worked all the time, I'd be no good for my students during the week.  My mom and I were talking just last night about how much sleep I get on average during the school year.  We figured that it averaged five and a half hours a night.  Part of that is my fault because I am a night owl, so I like staying up "late."  I just can't get to sleep at a time that would give me the recommended eight hours.  If I did, I would be going to bed by 8:30 pm.  If I get home at my normal time between 5:00-6:00 pm, I'd have only two and a half hours before bed. And, unless I'm not feeling well, that just doesn't happen.  There'd be hardly any time for dinner, TV watching, Facebook viewing, email checking and/or Pinterest playing because I'd still have grading to do.  I try to limit the amount of grading I do on a weeknight to one class or one assignment a night, but if I want to give the feedback that is timely, sometimes that plan doesn't work.  Thus the weekend or a holiday break is that much more important for when I need to have that personal time.

No matter what career or job a person has, that person is working for the money that helps to pay for the things they do in their time off.  That's why it is frustrating when the general public thinks that teachers work for three reasons: June, July, and August.  I know that people who do work all year around work hard; I'm not denying that.  Some jobs get holiday pay; some get vacation days.
Weekends and holidays are important to my teaching because they give me the time I need to relax, regroup, and rejuvenate.  Summers, holidays, and weekends (even when I have work to do for the week) are important because I can go back to school on Monday with the passion I have for my calling renewed. 

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