It's been a wonderful couple of weeks. I saw a bunch of movies, spent time with family and friends, slept as much as I could, started working out again, and read a book. Mostly I got to slow down, to sit and think, to do nothing for a while.
Here's what I noticed about Sunday, my last day of vacation. I woke up at 8:30 and started structuring my day. CBS Sunday morning was on from 9:00-10:30 and my husband and I watch it over breakfast every weekend. From 10:30-11:30 I needed to do some laundry and the dishes, prepare the marinade for dinner, and take a shower. At 11:30 I left to pick up one of my cubs from a friend's house. That took an hour. When I got home, I worked with him on some SAT questions for an hour and then spent the next two grading the last of my exams. For about thirty minutes I answered emails and for thirty more I sat thinking about how my time is structured and writing this post. After I finish writing, I'll jump on my elliptical for a bit, finish the laundry, and make dinner.
What makes this day different than a regular school day is really about how I structure time. Today I will finish about ten things ranging from the mundane of laundry folding to the "intellectual challenge" of the SAT. On a regular school day, I will do maybe fifty things, most of which I have no way to anticipate and will always be about people. Students will have questions. Colleagues will share stories. Meetings will appear from the ether. Phone calls and emails will need answering. And in the midst of all this will be the teaching, grading, and planning that every teacher must do every single day.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I absolutely love teaching. But maybe what makes me able to handle the unexpected and uncontrolled on a regular school day is this long, leisurely break where I do half as much work in twice as much time. There is nothing more relaxing than thinking about something or nothing without guilt or consequence.
People give teachers grief sometimes because we get so much vacation time. I actually did a fair amount of work on this break, although nothing close to what I would do normally. But that's not really the point. I concede that maybe it's not fair. I've never done any other job, so I can't speak for the rest of the world. I do know that I am anxious to get back to my students. I have some things I need to teach them. I really hope that's what people want from their children's teachers, people anxious to teach.
I'm ready to go back now, my heart light, my head clear. I 've got a new watch to help keep me on track. I found my patience for the mundane and my humor in the ridiculous. They were hiding under a big pile of exams I finally finished grading.