One of the benefits of being a teacher is extra time off from the job compared to other people’s two or three-week vacation periods.
Of course, outsiders may not be aware that the time teachers have off in the summer is unpaid. Many teachers, myself included, end up teaching summer school or doing another job in order to continue paying the monthly bills.
In recent years I have been very lucky not to have to work during the summer which has given me opportunities to get things done. It is amazing how many little things around the house a person can find to do, from cleaning areas of the house that have never been cleaned in quite some time, to figuring out which CDs still haven’t been uploaded to one’s iPod.
I start out each summer giving myself at least two weeks just to settle into a normal rhythm. Teaching at a high school with 18 bells going off each day creates a tension-filled environment. You have to conserve your energy throughout the day so that all five or six classes receive 100% of your effort.
Whenever I’m not working for long stretches of time, it takes several days for me to relax from such a highly-paced setting. Once I’ve settled into a slower pace, it is then hard for me to push myself to write the great American novel or to lose 20 pounds. For those of you already retired, you probably can relate to how fast time goes by even when you are not doing all that much.
The one teacher habit I can’t shake off even when I’m at home is writing out a to-do list for every day. I’m so obsessed that I’ll forget to do something, that I write down every little thing that I need to do.
Checking the done items off provides me with a sense of accomplishment even if it’s errands to the market or dry cleaners.
Before you know it, I’m back at work and many of the grand plans I daydreamed of doing have vanished, and it’s back to the rush-rush-rush of teaching.
So, I guess the lesson is to believe in the clichés and to make every day count in its own way, and not only stop and smell the roses, but sit outside and just breathe.
Now, if you excuse me, it’s back to alphabetizing my book collection.
-- Brian Crosby is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher. He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.