Breakfast by the picture window

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Teaching can suck every minute of every day. When the lesson planning, grading and other paperwork gets done, there are parent calls to make, flipcharts to create, and the many, other random Post-It notes or phone memos to handle. The note near my keyboard reminds me to see about pay for a recent Saturday development opportunity. My phone tells me to go to the Board office to pick up a copy of the Board’s acceptance of my resignation. Post-It notes and memos proliferate, carrying tiny details about subs for field trips and disciplinary conversations with the Dean.

I used to get up, make my coffee and toast, and head straight to the computer, cup and plate in hand. I began work not long after the tea kettle finished whistling. I had mail to read, papers to put into the gradebook, handouts to print, or some other task that I’d cobble together while petting the cat and talking to the dog. I quit that breakfast routine awhile back, though, and this post is a recommendation for teachers or anyone else with a long day: Don’t work during breakfast. I sit in front of the window in the kitchen now and eat in peace. I try to leave my phone in the charger so I don’t start playing games or looking at memos. I may read the Economist, but I try to simply watch the world out the window. I also meditate for a few minutes during the day when time allows.

Eduhonesty: Teachers run academic marathons, year after year. I recognize the rhythm of the years now, that point in October when people begin to feel winded, the brief respite that is Winter Break, lifting spirits into January. In February, teachers lounges turn gloomy, a snappy, sometimes lugubrious, weary mood that will slowly begin to improve in March, as temperatures rise and days grow longer. By March, student academic growth provides a renewed sense of purpose that helps sustain teachers through those last few months.

Teachers are better teachers when they leave time for rest and play. Marathoners must pace themselves. So must teachers. Whether a mosaic class, a daily work-out at the gym, or a regular break to watch basketball, we need to find mental escapes and refreshments. My quiet breakfast eases me into the day, reminding me to take care of myself while I am attempting to take care of everybody else.