I’ve been hanging out with some tired teachers this week, people who have come to the end of another school year, exhausted. They recount high points of the year, especially a last trip or a great theater production that wrapped things up. Teachers remember mostly the good things along with some disappointing outcomes or unresolved issues. Above all, though, they are heaving great sighs of relief that there is now time to rest.
Although we have become accustomed to this year end exhaustion, I would suggest two possible remedies.
First, we can enjoy true rest by slowing down our internal activity clocks, which are so programmed by school time. If there is not a conscious effort to switch gears, we simply transfer that mentality of getting things done to home life or even vacation time. We have to make a conscious effort to switch gears, to enjoy watching our children play in the sprinkler or take them to the ballgame, to gaze at the sky or the garden growing or the ocean waves without feeling we should be “doing something.”
My second suggestion is to spend some time rethinking the responsibility load we carry as classroom teachers. Is it possible that we are trying to do too much, cover too many bases, or solve too many problems? Are we taking responsibility for getting things done that students might be able to do instead? We know they learn best when they have important jobs to do. Which responsibilities could we shift to students to the benefit of all? It might be worth making a list.