Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Sacrifices and Gains


Yep.  Two posts in one day.  I feel I must because I skipped yesterday.  That, and I am in a writing mood.  I've been working on my book, but I need a break to clear my mind.  Anytime I need a break, I go to Facebook.  It's the best distraction in the world!  That and I get to see what everyone else is up to while I'm sitting on the patio writing.  Which, scrolling through the newsfeed, is what gave me the idea for this post.  I love to see what other teacher friends are up to, how they're spending their summers, and if there is a commonality between us all.  And, from my few days of thorough research, I've discovered that there are, indeed, several things teachers tend to do during the summer that they don't do during the rest of the school year.

So, I decided to come up with this list.  A list I've put together of stuff teachers have to sacrifice followed by a list of what teachers gain during the summer. 


1.  All Sense of Time.

It seems as though most teachers, during the summer, lose their heightened sense when it comes to time.  Ask a teacher any day during the week of the school year what day it is, and she'll be able to tell you the day, month, year, and the minute (to the second).  Ask her the same question in the middle of July, and receive a blank stare in return.  I have encountered this phenomenon myself.  I wake up not sure what day it is, or even if I'm sure about the month.  Although, I will say, the closer I get to August the more aware I am that it's approaching.  Fast.

2.  All Sense of Organization.

Most teachers are masters of organization.  They plan EVERYTHING.  They use cute little plan books, post-it notes, and journals to make sure that everything is prepared for.  Even at times that plans fall through, there's a plan to handle that situation.  Lesson plans, to-do lists, seating charts, sub plans, professional development plans, and evaluation plans are always on a teacher's mind.  Between the months of August and May, anyhow.  But, during the summer those plans fall to the wayside.  I've been asked many times what my "plans" are for the day, the coming week, and even during my summer break.  My response?  "Whatever".  Yep.  Whatever.  I take each day as it comes, and wake up and do whatever I want.  No plans.  No to-do lists.  Just a sense of complete and utter disarray.  For the first two weeks, it makes me feel a little anxious.  I don't like not knowing what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it every second of the day.  But, by the third week, I've absorbed myself in to the absolute pleasure of knowing I don't have to have all my ducks in a row.  I can be spontaneous, carefree, and adventurous.  Until the first week of August, anyway, when I go in to panic mode to make sure that my entire school year is planned out, and kicking myself for not using my summer to plan.

3.  Appearance.

This goes hand in hand with that organization thing.  A teacher's wardrobe is very important.  Plans have to be made to ensure that school dress is appropriate, and outfits are planned in advance.  The coveted jean days are put on the calendar with bright marker and several circles.  But during the summer?  All caution is thrown to the wind, and the majority of teachers spend their summers in old clothing, bathing suits, or PJs.  There's nothing more invigorating than getting up, throwing on the most comfortable clothing we own (if we even bother to change out of what we woke up in), and not even paying attention to what is staring back in the mirror. And clothing isn't the only thing that gets pushed aside.  Hair and make-up are also on that list.  I have spent all of 10 minutes on my hair all summer, and make-up?  Please.  Only time that's come out is when I have gone out with friends and felt that I needed a little splurge of appearance.  For 90% of the time during the summer, you'll find me walking around in the baggiest, oldest, most comfortable clothing in my closet.  All that goes on my feet are flip-flops, and a ball cap is thrown on my head because I'm not wasting any time trying to fix my unruly hair.  And that's pure, exhilarating bliss!

4.  Showers.

During the school year, I'm up at 4:30AM and in the shower by 5:30.  It's a part of the routine to go along with making sure my appearance is in top form.  But, I'll admit (regardless of how gross it is) that I've sacrificed a few showers since school got out.  When my days run together, and I'm perfectly content with the old clothes that I'm wandering around in, it's not surprising that I might skip a shower here or there.  I'm not talking about days at a time or anything, but my daily shower routine does fall to the wayside.  And, it's also not uncommon for me to take a shower at three in the afternoon...after I've spent the day in my PJs not caring about how I look in the slightest.  In fact, there's not a single day I can remember where I've showered before 7AM all summer long.  And I'd say about 75% of the showers have taken place after noon.

5.  Sleep.

Teachers are no strangers to sleep sacrifice.  That's a pretty normal occurrence throughout the school year.  But, sleep sacrifice during the school year is out of the teacher's control.  In order for them to make sure everything is planned, all papers are graded, and all kids have everything they need, a teacher must learn to live on 5-6 hours of sleep and suck it up.  Yet, summer comes around.. the time where most teachers could spend their time making up for all the lost hours of sleep they endured during the school year, and what do we do?  Stay up all night.  Yep, when you think sleep would be numero uno on a teacher's summer want list, it's usually knocked off and replaced with the freedom of going to bed at all crazy hours of the night.  We sit up and watch hours upon hours of Netflix, catch up on the shows and movies we missed during the school year, read, or play mindless games to pass the time. I, myself, haven't made it to bed before 2AM since I don't know when.  2AM is actually early compared to some of the times I've stayed awake till.  There's a part of me that just says going to bed early during the summer is a waste, that I should take advantage of every minute I have... so that requires sacrificing the sleep that I should be getting.  Besides, not sleeping in the summer keeps me in top form for when the school year starts up again.  

With all these sacrifices, teachers also gain a few things.  Stuff we don't have the luxury of during the school year...

1.  Family and Friends.

During the summer, teachers get to realize that there are other people living in their house.  People that refer to us as "Mom" or "Dad".  And while the school year is spent answering those names with responses such as "In a little while" or "Not now, I'm kinda busy", we can now spend the summer meeting all the requests of our biological children.  My kids have grown to understand that between the months of August and May, I have around 25 children.  They share me willingly, and never complain.  Because, they know that in the summer it's all about them.  I spend the majority of my summer wanting to do fun stuff with them, and letting them have the run of the show.  We don't have to plan and schedule time together around meetings, sports, and school days... it's more of that carefree, do whatever we like kind of stuff.  It's a time that we all bond, enjoy each other's company, and soak up all the activities we don't normally have time for.  It's also a great time to catch up with the friends we don't work with.  I spend a great deal of time with amazing people that I work with, but during the school year I rarely see those people I care about that I don't work with.  The summer gives me plenty of chances to get with them and catch up on our lives.

2.  Reading for Pleasure.

Most non-teachers have a misconception that a teacher spends a great deal of time reading.  That they enjoy reading, and do it often.  While it is true that most teachers read a lot, and enjoy reading for pleasure... very rarely do the two mesh.  Our school year is spent reading required PD books, standard objectives, school initiative memos, and emails.  That's it.  I get the pleasure of reading books to my students, but those books are books I've read many times before and are on a strictly screened list.  There's just no time for reading anything I want to read.  But, during the summer?  Now that's when the new books can come out.  The racy novels, the fantasies, the murder-mysteries.  Books that I could never read to my students fill my reading list.  In the three weeks I've been off work, I've read over half a dozen books.  And I've checked more books out of the library than I did all year long.  I also have a pile still waiting to be read that I will conquer before it's time to go back to work.  Summer is the only time I can get my fill of pleasure reading, and I make sure I make the most of it.

3.  Naps.

Now, even though teachers often sacrifice sleep in the summer, there's always the freedom to lay down for a nap.  A word that teacher's have heard, but never quite understood...until the school year ends.  I know that I've taken advantage of a few naps this summer.  If I'm up most of the night, I might as well lay down for an hour or two during the day, right?  In my mind, there's nothing more satisfying than filling a lazy day with a nap... especially if I'm curled up with my Jelly or my cat.  A rare luxury that is only available to teachers during the summer months.

4.  Trashy TV.

During the school year, there are a select number of TV shows that I make plans for.  There aren't very many, but I make sure that my DVR gets a good workout and keeps me up to date on the shows that are a must see.  But, there are also tons of shows that I wanted to watch, but didn't find them to be deemed necessary to fit into my already bursting, hectic schedule.  So, during the summer, I purge all those desires by hunting down the shows I missed and getting my trashy TV fill.  Reality shows, dramas, Netflix originals, and Hulu originals all make their way on to my TV screen during the summer.  Most of the time, it's how I spend my late nights.  During the day, the TV has on some form of cartoon, Hubby is playing his video games, or we're not home to even watch TV.  But at night?  That's when I can sit up and feast my eyes on whatever show I'm in the mood for.  It's another one of those simple summer luxuries I take advantage of.

5.  Memories.

While we sacrifice plans and organizations, teachers also gain a sense of adventure during the summer.  Theme parks, vacations, water parks, and back yard barbecues help build memories that aren't built during the school year.  That's not to say that the school year doesn't provide lasting memories, but they are more of the school assembly, field trip, and sporting event kind.  The summer gives a whole new life to lasting memories.  There's just nothing greater than having the chance to visit the place the whole family has been dying to visit, or spending the day playing at the lake, or even jumping in to the pool and having a game of Marco Polo... they are the moments that get captured and remembered in our brains.  With all my focus being put on a carefree, unplanned summer.. I do keep one plan very much alive:  Plan to have fun.  The summer has to be filled with fun, in whatever way my family deems fit.  That fun is an adventure, and memories in the making.  And, teachers can never quite get their fill of memories during the summer... but it's where most of them are made.

I have three weeks left until I report back to my first day of work.  But, I know that technically, this is my last week of vacation before I start heading in to school a few days a week to set up my classroom.  I plan on making the most of it, gaining what I gain and sacrificing what I have to sacrifice.

Teachers, once again, have the absolute best job on the planet!!


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