Archive for October, 2010

A Day of Rest

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Now is the time of the year (among a number of others as you near end-of-term or end-of-quarter sessions) where parents flock to their phones, email boxes, or school offices to find out what their kids’ grades are–and what their kids’ teachers are doing about those grades.  This is also the time of year when teachers find themselves furthest emotionally from their own homes.  It is a time of irritability and exhaustion.  Even teachers who are able to keep up with grades on a daily or weekly basis (a great accomplishment, although un-praised, for having 6 or more classes to teach with 30 or more students in each) tend to find themselves swamped by outside demands that make them wonder why they keep teaching and whether or not they should just grade half-heartedly for the next week or so until everyone decides to settle down again (once again turning in late work and goofing off at every opportunity).

It is important for teachers to decide at these times whether they are going to either go crazy, or tackle things with a passion, or completely ignore their out-of-school duties (something which every other profession, by the way, gets “comp-time” for…just thought I’d throw that in there).  There are rarely times where going crazy is helpful.  Tackling duties is something which teachers find themselves (ourselves!) doing daily…and our weekends are spent neglecting our families and, very often, losing ourselves among piles of papers.  I have been tempted many times to put out fewer and fewer papers which are collected for actual grades…but have yet to teach myself how to stoop that far.

I do believe, however, that there are days when a teacher needs to simply VEG-OUT!  (read: vejj!)  Deadlines may be looming, and s/he may be getting a tsunami of parent/counselor/administrator contacts about grades and student progress, but there comes a time where a teacher needs to hold onto the little bit of family time they can get…even if only once a month.  I, personally, have to force myself to ignore the emotional pressures that come up during this time.  Inconveniently, they are usually linked to special days (like a holiday normally associated with family closeness and quality time).  Now that I am a father, it is becoming more important to me than ever to set aside time to truly enjoy life and the joys of parenthood.  I have seen so many examples of families falling apart.  The symptoms of family neglect come early, but they do not become serious until it is generally “too late.”

For my Family, I choose to let my career be my job but not my life.  I have a feeling that I will be an even more effective teacher this way, as well, since my Family life will have balance and happiness.  Something I have learned is that quality time is no substitute for quantity time.  Too many people I have seen try to “make up” for not spending time with their loved ones.

If we, as teachers, are truly meant to be mentors and role-models to the next generation…how could we be so negligent in our duties as to fail to teach students the most important lesson in life:  Family is everything.