Tag: working

When You Need a Vacation

I saw this meme on Facebook. Yes, I know, that’s the first line of a TON of rants and blog posts. But it’s true. Here’s the meme:

This wasn’t it, but this is what it SAID

 

Although I agree with the sentiment BEHIND the meme, I disagree with the principle of it.

Leave it to the wordsmith to talk about semantics. You’re welcome.

The Sentiment

I take the meme to mean: “If you love what you do hard enough, you’ll never need a vacation.”

I love writing. I enjoy teaching (most of the time). According to this meme, I should never want or NEED a vacation because I’m passionate about my calling.

Be passionate about your calling. Strive to work within your called “career” and you won’t want a vacation every Friday afternoon.

Trust me. I’ve worked in a place where politics ruled. I’ve been a full-timer in our broken public education system. Those things EXHAUSTED me. Every week was another marathon. I’d chant, “It’s almost Friday. You can make it to Friday.”

Not anymore. Although, with the full-time subbing gig in a freshman social science classroom for three of the four weeks this month, you can bet I’m eager for the long weekend planned for my anniversary. But it isn’t because I’ve lost my passion.

The Principle

The principle of “a vacation” is a time to take a break from your routine. To get a change of scenery or just chance the pace of your days is just plain good for your brain and body.

Plenty of Americans don’t take vacations. And they are burned out. Their bodies run on stress and caffeine instead of food.

Maybe they’re passionate about their work, too, but that’s NOT going to keep their body, mind, spirit and soul from yearning for a break in the rut of routine.

Research shows that people who vacation regularly are BETTER at their jobs. They can focus better and they are all-around more healthy.

I haven’t had the most stress-free year around here. It could be because I’m a month behind my deadlines. It could be because my husband’s parents hit a health snafu that meant he needed to drop everything to care for them.

Or it might be because I’m getting an incredible walk-in shower. Or because I’m a first-time Lolly. I mean, who could be stressed when their granddaughter is an angel?

The reality is, we didn’t put a week-long trip on the calendar. It was supposed to be 10 days in Italy but with the bathroom expense and the extra time off to care for the parents, that wasn’t going to happen. So we had a few long weekend trips planned.

It’s NOT the same, but it will have to do.

What do you think? How often to you vacation from your daily routine? Does a virtual vacation via reading count?

The Ins and Outs of Being a Substitute Teacher

On this Monday morning, the door to the classroom is open. The teacher I’m replacing is at her desk gathering some last minute items for the field trip she’s chaperoning today. She doesn’t make eye contact when she says, “Are you my sub?” and hands me the sheet of paper with the lesson plans typed on it.

As I’m scanning it, she mentions that I might get asked to cover some other classes since she has two periods when she only has “teacher’s assistants” in the room. I’d like to ask about this, but I don’t. Instead I’m thinking, “This is going to be a long day.”

What Adds Hours

I’ve worked in education long enough to know that plenty of substitute teachers bring a thick novel and hope they’ll get uninterrupted reading time during their day. I’m not one of those.

Sure, I have my tablet, and there are always books to be read on one of my digital reader apps. Most of the time, I plan to use the planning period (at least) to work on whatever project I’m writing that day. Or I might whip out a blog post or two (like this one).

But for the most part, a day where students aren’t going to be engaging with me tends to be a L-O-N-G one. Here are some things I might see in sub plans that tell me this eight hours is going to feel like sixteen:

  • A movie (that will be played for three or four different classes)
  • Ongoing work on a project (like the essay in the sophomore language arts class today)
  • Silent reading of a text and a corresponding worksheet
  • Traveling to the computer lab to work on something
  • An online assignment (because many of the students will head off to a fun place in cyberspace and will conveniently ignore me when I try to redirect them)

This last one is what the seniors in honors language arts are doing on the day I’m penning this. They’re honors students, so they might be more on-task than the average class, but they’re seniors too. And it is the week before spring break.


Things You Wouldn’t Think You’d Do

Babysitting students while they supposedly work on an ongoing assignment is expected. Teachers don’t know what sort of substitute will be filling in for them (unless they request a specific one), and maybe the substitute won’t know the first thing out the subject matter.
Thus, I tried not to feel offended during this conversation today:

Me: “So should I expect some students will want me to check off this sheet before they begin writing?”
Teacher: “I wouldn’t worry about that.” Pause. “Unless you feel comfortable identifying themes.”
Me: Stunned into silence.

Hello? I have an English literature degree. And I’m familiar with Bradbury’s classic FAHRENHEIT 451. Are you serious right now?
But worse than that expectation that I wouldn’t “get” what sophomores are doing is the drill that will be held during second period. The vice-principal came in first thing to hand me the “procedures.”
I’ve already been on a fire drill at this school. But today there will be a LOCK DOWN drill. This is preparatory for a “live shooter” or “other threat” on campus.
So, when the announcement comes on, I’ll get to pull the blinds, switch of the lights and huddle under my desk with a class full of teenagers. All of them will have their phones out, and I’m supposed to keep them off those.

Because in the event of an actual lock down, those lights would be an open invitation to the threat that the room was filled with innocents. Not really a message we want to give out.

As the VP explains things to me (and I’m not a novice to this, so he really didn’t have to), he ends the conversation with, “It’s unfortunate that we even have to practice this.”

Unfortunate might be an understatement. This is the world we live in where people won’t even let kids learn in peace at school.

And then they decide to have a fire drill on the back side of sitting on the floor in the dark for six minutes. I’m sure you can guess how engaged those sophomores were when we came back to class 20 minutes later.


What Adds Interest

I didn’t want to end this post with a negative tone, so let’s talk about things that add interest to my day of substitute teaching. There are a few. It’s not always glorified babysitting (with a WAY better paycheck than I ever earned back in the day).

I’m a writer. I love reading. You can imagine what sort of things I’d find interesting when in the same room with teenagers. Things like:

  • Reading and discussing an article
  • Reading and discussing a short story with a specific purpose (like writing a paragraph on some literary device or element afterward)
  • Reading and discussing poetry
  • Watching a video that will spark a conversation that segues into an assignment
  • Brainstorming ideas for stories (a rare joy these days)
  • Class discussion when students actually participate

There are probably other things that have made the hours slide by in a middle or high school classroom. In the end, it boils down to student engagement and teacher-student interaction.

What things have you done at work lately that were unexpected? What makes the day drag on and on for you?