This was the first summer in four years where I wasn’t in school or teaching. The past four summers were consumed by my doctoral journey both as a student and as a professor. Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing both…but this girl needed a forced break.
Being at our second home in the beautiful state of Michigan was absolutely wonderful. I slept in, read books, enjoyed the lake, and day-dreamed. I cannot say that I didn’t think of work (I did) or what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life (because I did that, too). Luckily I spent more time contemplating my Chapter 2, my next adventure, more than anything. The reason for getting my doctorate was both personal and professional. Personal because I read John Streckley’s book The Big Five (if you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you do!) and professionally because I wanted options beyond what the four walls of a classroom could give.
The pandemic (for all of its craziness) gave me a good idea of what remote working was like. And I liked it—I really did. The flexibility of the day and the fact that my commute was cut down from 26 minutes to two was AH-mazing. I had more time in the day to do things because I didn’t spend it on the freeway. And, while I didn’t like all of the Zoom meetings, I understand that it’s the “cost” of working remotely. The pandemic also quickly helped me get over being on camera. So kudos, pandemic, as that was a hill I was willing to die on. 😉
I have mainly stayed away from the news and relied on email and listservs to provide me interesting tidbits of reading. I finally was able to indulge in one of my favorite activities: reading. It pained me to realize that as a result of the chaos of teaching during the pandemic, I had only managed to finish ONE BOOK as of June 2021. One. Pathetic.
Since I’ve been on summer break, I have read 35 books (and counting). My interests are far and wide with most of my books falling within the historical fiction genre, but I also read my share of non-fiction books as well.
I bring all of this up because I needed this break. I needed to not feel the push and pull of studying or teaching. I needed to remove myself from the 24-hour media cycle. I needed a separation from the hustle and bustle of life in California and all of the personal and professional obligations that continuously call my name. I needed to be forced to slow down.
After reading all this, you might be thinking that I should be ready to return to the classroom. I had a nice two month break, after all.
But you’d be wrong.
The few news reports that managed to break into my bubble here in Michigan only revealed news that makes my head (and heart) hurt. The “guidance” from the CDC and leadership from the state and local authorities in California continue to make me feel as if I’m on a merry-go-round seesaw (yes, it’s an up-and-down centripetal feeling). I would like nothing more than to put my head into the sand until this whole thing blows over. And by “thing” I mean teaching during the pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved each and every student who attended my Zoom sessions, who opened and responded to my emails, who participated in online discussions, who tried their best to complete the assignments, and who took the time to chat back-and-forth with me via the comments in their Living History Journal. So, the bottom line is: I loved my students. And I loved my colleagues and the perseverance they showed throughout this mess. #heroes
But I feel tired at the thought of returning to work.
There is much talk about “teacher wellness” out there. Good-intentioned people are posting positive intentions on social media. Organizations are publishing lists of ways to de-stress and resources to use. And I suspect many districts are now putting “educator wellness” somewhere in their strategic plans.
I hope it’s more than talk though.
While I had the luxury of having two months off from work, I know that wasn’t the reality for many of my teacher colleagues out there. Some continued to work during the summer out of necessity and perhaps others out of obligation. Most of my good friends had the summer off. But I think most of us are still just a bit leery about going back to work.
We’re not quite at the post-pandemic trailhead yet.
I’m not ready to get back on the merry-go-round seesaw.
And that’s the honest truth.