I survived my first week. Can I take the weekend off?

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teacher relaxing on weekend

You made it!  Friday afternoon brings  a great feeling–even when you love what you do! There’s the hope that with the weekend ahead, you can go back to doing the normal things you did before the school year started–shopping, cleaning, reading, watching TV, hanging out with friends, sleeping in.  And, yes, you can do some of those things.  But, no…you can’t really take the weekend off.

This was one of the biggest surprises I experienced as a new teacher.  I lived at home with my parents for the first year and a half of teaching before I got married.  I remember my mother asking me, “Does every teacher sit at the kitchen table working on school work until bedtime each night?”

“I don’t know.  I guess so,” I answered.  I really didn’t know what else to do.  Thank goodness I wasn’t responsible for taking care of a household.  I don’t think I could have done it.  Not that others have not done so.  Many new teachers move to a new community and live on their own.  But I, as a new teacher, did not have the fortitude to keep my head above water…mostly because I had not been properly instructed on how to manage my first year.

You, on the other hand, have an advantage!  You have blogs and internet helps unavailable to me in the 1980’s.  So here I am to tell you this:  You MUST use part of your weekend to stay afloat with the demands of teaching. 

Personally, I choose not to do any work on Friday nights.  I’m simply too tired.  Saturday has its own set of obligations.  There is laundry to be done, rooms to be cleaned, grocery shopping to do, and household tasks awaiting me that simply have to be dealt with unless I want to live in squalor!

What you need to do—and what I have done—is to choose a block of time that you know will be devoted to  working on the following next week’s school responsibilities.  You will need to do lesson plans for the next week, grade papers, and perhaps develop assignments.  Carve out a block of time, and then hold yourself to it.  If you think that 3:00 til 6:00 on a Sunday afternoon is adequate, then for that period of time work only on school things.  Sadly, three hours may not cut the mustard.

There are some educators who refuse to work outside of the contracted school hours, but I have never been able to operate on that principle.  For the most part, I begin working between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and continue working until bedtime. No, I am not OCD.  I’m just trying to stay employed. :)

Whatever the case, do not work past your normal bedtime.  I deliberately end my work an hour before bedtime.  I have to have some time to relax and to get lunch and clothes ready for the next day.

Whatever you decide to do, DO NOT LET SCHOOL WORK CONSUME YOUR WHOLE WEEKEND.  As important as blocking out time to do school work is, the time you block out for rest, family, and household tasks is equally important.  Trust me on this…

And while you’re at it, I would make sure that you are eating properly, getting exercise, and getting enough sleep.  If you don’t, you are going to catch every bug that comes along. Remember, you’re in a new germ pool this year!

Above all, remember that this first year is the hardest.  It won’t always be this difficult and the hard work you put in this year will pay big dividends the next year!