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A Reset

Rachel Perugini Education, Life in the Classroom

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Spring break is the chance for teachers everywhere to exhale, but I know most teachers are like me and spend their week off finding a balance between relaxing and catching up. I usually spend the first days of any break relaxing, binging TV shows, and sleeping in before I spend the rest of it grading and planning for when school starts again. Should I be working during my week off? No, but I do it anyway. No guilt here— it’s a chance for us to get ahead or dig ourselves out of that pile of late work we’ve been ignoring in a profession where we have little free time and too much to do.

But not this break. This break I reversed my usual course. I spent 6 full days ignoring anything school related; I didn’t answer emails, grade papers (despite my pile), or open up my lesson plans. And it was amazing.

After a year of COVID, I finally got to go home to meet my new baby niece and see my family. It was exactly what I needed to reset. I got to hug people again and play with baby toys and try ever so hard to get an 8 month old to say something close to Rachel (I got raaaaah once, and I’ll take it). I tried to be present for every moment and reconnect with people I have missed a lot.

People always say they come back from breaks feel refreshed and reinvigorated, and I usually make it three days before I feel bored. So, for the first time ever, I finally enjoyed that time off and came back recharged. I didn’t realize it though, until I walked back into the building this week and was stressed again.

It feels embarrassing to admit how stressful my job is this year because I love teaching, so it was hard to write those words. Teaching during COIVD isn’t as fun as it used to be, and the stress of this year isn’t healthy. The comparison of my stress-free week to how I’ve felt having student back in the building these past three days has made me realize that I need more breaks, and I need to not feel guilty about taking them. Teachers can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to not get burnt out. And I know this year is different and that things will eventually return to normal, but I also know I can’t work myself to death and be happy at the same time.

My commitment then is to take some of the leave I never use and enjoy some mental health days this spring. I’m not planning anything crazy; letting myself sleep in and taking a hike on a nice day would probably be enough to refresh my stress levels. If you’ve read this far and still need permission or a reminder, take the day if you need it. We’ll all be better teachers if we do.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

 

I am originally from Pennsylvania where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Shippensburg University. In 2012, I moved to Arizona to teach on the Navajo Reservation; I liked the state so much I decided to stay. I taught language arts, reading, and journalism for three years at Many Farms High School. During that time, I earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading. In 2015, I moved to Flagstaff where I currently teach 10th and 11th grade English. I have been an avid reader all my life, so I love that my job gives me that chance to read amazing books with my students all day long.

Comments 4

  1. Yolanda Wheelington

    Thank you for this piece! You already got me thinking about my next blog. This was the first Spring Break where I did NO school related work or activities. I have to admit, it was weird. But, I restored in areas I did not realize were depleted and when we started in school teaching after break, I realized how much bigger my life is than my classroom.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.

  2. Maria Fallon

    Rachel, I can relate in so many ways! It is so rare for teachers to get the true “reset” we really need. I agree that teaching is a lot more work with a little less joy as the pandemic continued to have a strong impact on teaching and learning. It is so important that we remind ourselves who we are outside of the classroom so that we can show up for our students in the best ways possible in the classroom (or virtually)! Thanks for a great piece!

  3. Nicole Wolff

    Thank you for speaking this truth! I know there are many teachers who are feeling exactly like this. They need some time to reset but feel guilty practicing self-care. I hope your experience and insights provide them with validation that it’s okay to take care of yourself at times. We need it, particularly this year.

  4. Kyle Bragg

    Thank you, Rachel! I appreciate you being vulnerable. I feel the same way about really forcing myself to get away from school. I’ve started leaving my computer at school on the weekends, which has helped. And I plan on taking a personal day in a couple weeks to get away as well. Balance is key!

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