I am sitting here, at the beach, at the tail-end of my 2-week break in the school year.
Yup. Teachers and students who work and learn on a year-round, or “continuous learning,” schedule get a break in the fall. And a much-needed break it was, indeed.
This is my second year working on a continuous learning calendar (CLC) and I really like it. I enjoy teaching 199 days, instead of the state-required 180 days in North Carolina, but it makes these infrequent breaks much more necessary and desirable. By the beginning of October, I was starting to feel the impending burn-out that teachers sense around Thanksgiving (and definitely by the winter-holiday break), thus begging for some mercy and time away from school. Our students stepped foot inside our school to begin learning on July 21st and we’ve been going strong, ever since. With the exception of Labor Day, we’ve been working HARD every day for the past 11 weeks. And for every day that we work hard with our students, the next break gains an exponential amount of power.
A lot of people outside of the education industry don’t understand the power that these week-long breaks give teachers. Let’s get the superficial (yet, important) and tangible reasons out of the way, first. I was able to schedule a doctor’s appointment. (As most teachers know, doctors’ offices book up fast during Christmas break, spring break, and summer break, and if you work sun-up to sun-down like me, going in to see the doc isn’t that easy during a normal work day, hence the “big deal” I am making this.) Secondly, I was able to visit past students at their cross-country meets. I was able to run errands in the middle of the day and actually peruse the grocery aisles without running into people. I practiced vinyasa yoga. I exercised when it was light outside. I got my house painted. I watched daytime TV. (Eh, still not that crazy about it.) Finally, I went to the beach for a long weekend with my husband and some friends. I did so many things that the luxury of time do not allow during a normal work week.
But this break gave me more than time to do my errands and play in the sand.
I had time to rest. I can be pretty lazy from time to time,but when it comes to my job, I am on autopilot and I just go, go, and go some more. Sometimes, I forget to breathe. I didn’t forget to breathe during this break. I rested my mind, my body, and my mind some more. Rest is so crucial, yet it is something educators put off because we are required to do so much ALL THE TIME. Get some rest. The result of a few days of rest is amazing.
I had time to reflect. Reflection is such a huge part of learning and becoming a better fill-in-the-blank. I spent a vast majority of my break reflecting on my teaching practice, Tweeting with other educators and continuing to learn from their best practices and clearly think about what I need to change in my classroom and what is going well. I feel like such a stronger teacher going into these next few weeks just based on my reflections.
I had time to reevaluate. With that reflection, came reevaluation (like I mentioned before). I reevaluated my classroom management, my student interactions, and my priorities at work. Reevaluating is necessary to grow, and I firmly believe in maintaining a growth mindset.
I had time to read! I lovereading. Let me say that again, I lovereading. Yet I don’t get to do it enough. I read several great books – fiction and nonfiction – during my break and it was bliss. Pure bliss.
I had time to plan. Oh, boy, did I plan! I planned the next 5 weeks and the next 5 years!
Finally, I had time to blog. I love blogging. I have always liked to write, so I am thrilled I have found this hobby and have introduced my students to it.
I am so excited to start this next chapter of the school year tomorrow! It will be a long day, I’m sure, but I feel rejuvenated, rested, and ready to
(The last picture is a selfie I took of my husband and me right after we finished our half marathon in Myrtle Beach this morning!)