I distinctly remember staying late, late on a Friday night my second year of teaching so that I could finish all of my grading and planning for the next week.
I loved the idea of having a whole weekend to myself for once, but I didn’t actually think about what I would do with it once I had it. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling optimistic and free and by 1:15pm when I still hadn’t really moved from my bed, dread started to creep in. I had no idea really what to do with this free time. Completely forgot what I actually liked to do. It was the worst day ever.
I ate a Hungry Man dinner at 4:00pm.
If you are like me and are in danger of having that happen to your entire summer, or even just a couple of weeks of it, I have some ideas for you.
1) Sleep. For, like, two weeks.
If you have this planned, it’s intentional and therefore you don’t have to feel guilty. Teaching is insane. You need to sleep for two weeks just to hope to get back to what other people consider to be normal. If you want to be ambitious and semi-social, go sleep in a hammock at the park, or by the water. But by all means, tell everyone who will be affected by this what your plan is, and then execute like a champion.
Now that you’re rested and you have accomplished your first task for yourself, get back to being you. Being a teacher means giving time to other people constantly and it can be hard to remember yourself.
Here are some ways back:
2) Devise and execute a silly science experiment.
You teach others how to learn (sometimes more than) five days a week. When was the last time you did some structured experimentation and learning yourself? Chart progress of your experiment and send pictures to your students. Nerds rule.
3) Write a ridiculous song…
…and practice it until you can nail it around any campfire or even your class next term. Indulging a ridiculous part of yourself may sound, well, ridiculous. It is, but it is also liberating and keeps your creativity in check. I wrote a love song for my wife and it is one of the worst and off-color songs I know. I serenaded her with that dirge, and while I cannot guarantee that she didn’t lose some measure of respect for me, she secretly thought it funny and endearing.
4) Spend an ambitious amount of time unplugged.
Three to five days with only a book, notepad, and good walking shoes away from everyone you know, in total silence, is gripping if not life-changing. You remember quickly what it is you like and who you are. You’ll probably write that novel you’ve been meaning to get to, too.
Teachers are the coolest people (I should know). Go on, bask in you-ness this summer. You deserve it.