Burn Out

Last week the count-down began. Before the bell rang, I caught a conversation between 2 students, both seniors. They were discussing whether or not the count-down to summer (and, more importantly, graduation!) should include weekends - and both felt strongly about their personal method of counting, with the countdown updated weekly in their planners with cute markers and stickers. I just smiled and continued my "6-minute-shuffle," the time I have to organize, sort, and stack between classes.

Inside, though, I thought "Woo-hoo!" only 52 (or 70-something, depending on your method!) days left!! Visions of leisurely mornings, followed by afternoons by the pool, filled my brain. The 6-letter word that's a teacher's motivation this time of year: summer.

I love my job. However, the late-nights, the continual pressure of school-work on your mind, and the never-ending to-do lists wear on even the best of educators after 9 months of school stresses. If you're not in education you may have problems understanding the constant pressure that weighs on the mind of a teacher, but if you could learn even a fraction about life From the Other Side of the Desk, you would understand.

Almost three years ago, when I was embarking on this journey of education, I talked with one of my now dear friends, who had previously taught in a year-round school in California. At first I thought it was utterly crazy, but after talking more with her, and after three years of this concept steeping in my teacher-crazed lifestyle, I wonder if, perhaps, year-round school isn't quite as out there as I originally thought.

The basic concept (scheduling the school days with more smller and more frequent breaks through out the year as opposed to the one major summer-time break) is radically different. And, in fact, that's one reason why year-round scheduling fails in school districts---it's simply to hard to go against the ingrained, traditional school schedule. However, is the tradional method always the best method?

There are a myriad of supposed problems-economic, scheduling, funding, support-the list goes on. I don't want to debate the advantages or disadvantages (if you're that interested, just google it). I just want to propose one simple idea: would I be a better educator in a year-round school?

I think, perhaps, I would be. For the longest period of time a teacher in most year-round school district teaches with out at least a week-long break is six weeks. With a year-round schedule, every time that I, professionally, felt tired and needed a break, I would have one! There would be no long-haul, hard-core push from spring break until summer. More frequent breaks translates into fresher teacher AND fresher students, which would help motivation and classroom management.

I LOVE summer. The thought of giving it up is terrifying. However, if I hadn't just pushed myself to the max for the previous 180 days, would I need the summer so desperately? If I had frequent breaks from my classroom, would I need 2 1/2 months of so badly? If I were able to frequently escape the pressures from my classroom, would I be so worn-out by the end of the year?

Hypothetical, I know - I'm not likely to teach in a year-round district. At this point in the school year - only one grading period left - an educator can't help but wonder what would help prevent exhaustion. Tell me what you think.

As for now, I leave you with this quip:

"Teachers love summer as much as parents love fall."