I have a day off today. Friends and family have asked what I'm going to do on my day off. As I write, it's 9:00 a.m., and I'm officially 1 hour and 45 minutes into my day off. And I've done nothing school-y yet, except check my email. That will change soon. I have a list.
Today I've got some correcting to do. Unlike my bestie, who had oodles of papers to grade this weekend and even posted a photo of the stack of Facebook, I got lucky this weekend. I only have quizzes and reader responses to assess. Only. Then I've got some reading homework to do. I've joined a regional book club on teaching English Language Learners, and we meet next week, so I need to do that reading and write a response for that. Sure, it's voluntary, but I'm participating for two reasons: 1) to better my understanding of ELLs and how they learn best, and 2) for formalizing my professional development. Gotta keep accruing those CEUs. Then I've got to write my syllabi for the next three weeks in my five classes. It'll be tricky because standardized testing begins in March and daily schedules are changed, classes are shortened and lengthened, and my classes will be meeting in other classrooms than mine. After that, I will set up my next round of parent video conferences, part of my professional goal for the year. After that, I need to write a bunch of emails and do some research for a project that the school counselor and I are collaborating on for the ninth-graders. After that, I will hopefully have time to work on my part of a conference workshop an out-of-district colleague and I are presenting at the end of March. Then hopefully I will get to work on a new assessment project for The Odyssey that I dreamed up last week.
After that, I might be able to do what a lot of other people do on days off: not-work-stuff.
Some people may never understand why teachers (and students) need breaks. They may argue that we are highly-paid for "having summers off." I don't want this to become a forum for debate, particularly. I've intentionally refrained from politicizing this blog. But days off are not that for us. Not during the school year, when weekends are extensions of weekdays. And so summer becomes the time when we can go correcting-free and daily-planning-free, at the very least. Of course, most of us also spend our summers long-term planning, taking classes and courses, attending workshops, writing curriculum, or completing professional reading. Some of us teach summer school, or work at summer camps, or run other summer programs. Some of us work full-time at second jobs. Some of us full-time parent our school-aged children. All of us use the summer to think deeply about our work, to re-visit, review, and revise our lessons or methodologies, and to plan, plan, plan for next year.
So on this day off, my list is full. I think I'll squeeze in one more thing, though: think about summer. Check.