What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?
Weekends are essential to my teaching by giving me breathing room. I don't have to schedule my days into 43-minute time slots and I can decide when to work and when to play. My weekends are never fully "time off" from teaching. This is when I do a lot of professional reading, highlighting and planning what new (or new to me) techniques I'll try in my classroom. I'm constantly looking at my lesson plan book from the previous year and evaluating where I'm currently at, what I want to keep, and what really needs to go. I don't have time to do that during my working days, so it's usually a Saturday morning activity. Tackling personal growth and lesson planning for a few hours on Saturday mornings makes me feel like I've earned the rest of the day off, guilt-free. I'm not sure if that's a healthy way of thinking or not. And yes, there are plenty of Saturdays where I have plans, or just decide to blow off professional growth and leave my lesson plans to a last-minute scramble. I wouldn't want anyone reading this to think I'm the perfect example of a perfect teacher. I'm not. I don't think it's healthy to sacrifice all of your time outside of school working on school stuff; kids need well-rounded teachers, not bitter martyrs.
Sunday nights are when I bite the bullet and tackle grading. Are all English teachers procrastinators, or just me? I enter weekends with high hopes to tackle grading early and feel superior about it, and then I inevitably wait until the last minute. In all fairness, this is also my tactic for writing and working in general. I'm a squeaking-in-by-the-deadline kind of person when it comes to my own writing, so it makes sense that I'd approach grading the same way.
Holidays are time off. I try to plan my units so I am genuinely able to enjoy holidays without a stack of work to tackle. For some holidays, like Thanksgiving, this easy. My school district always has our Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences the week of Turkey Day, so I have to have everything in order for those. For Christmas Break it just makes sense. I don't want the beginning of the year to carry over and haunt students when we start up again in January. The back half of the year is a time for students (and teachers) to start fresh, so I make sure whatever unit we've been working on is wrapped up and papers have been handed back before they leave for break. It doesn't mean they're allowed to forget how far we've come, it just means they can come back to class refreshed and knowing that we'll start something new. I read a lot over the holidays, so it's also a time for me to plan out new strategies and experiment without time pressure.
Weekends and holidays allow me to love my job. While I love many parts of my working days, there's also a lot of stress built into the pace of teaching. Being surrounded by other stressed-out coworkers isn't always a good thing, either. Time away from that environment allows me to work toward being a better person and teacher.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.