End of Summer Affliction . . .

“The three best things about teaching are June, July and August” ~ Unknown
Have you ever heard that saying? As a teacher, I hear it in a joking manner several times a year. Most long-time teachers who are great at their jobs might repeat the phrase … but, they don’t really mean it (well, not all the time). I know I don’t mean it. Do I love my summers? YES, big time. However, over the years I have learned that I am paying a big price for my summers. Most teachers suffer from a life out of balance simply because of the way our school year is structured. Technically, we live two lives … our school life and our summer life … and living that way makes us susceptible to many things … one of them being “Schoolitis”. This is not a new disease … it has existed since school began (painting below from 1910).

One fact about “Schoolitis” that has to be made clear at the start is that it is not an affliction suffered by only students returning to school in the Fall, it is also a disease of teachers. If you have ever been a teacher, then I am sure that you are like me and truly appreciate the flexibility and freedom summer brings. During the summer months our lives are no longer run by an hourly bell, a strict schedule of activities and the bag of work we drag home every night. If you are not a teacher, you can not imagine some of the luxuries that return to our lives in the summer … we actually have the freedom to go to the bathroom any time we need to (I am serious).

Summer vacations bring other small rewards to teachers that most people are not deprived of at work such as … being able to listen to the radio during the day, reading things not related to school (work), making appointments for a weekday (without also the step by step instructions that explain how our substitute can be us for a day and survive). The freedom to travel or take a class to learn something new are all possible in the summer. There are many great things about a teacher’s summer vacation that are totally foreign to us during the school year … but, lazy mornings … that is one of my favorite perks of the summer. (see past post).

Well, my summer freedom is coming to an end and I am feeling it physically … I have contracted Schoolitis. When I think about going back to the rigid school system, the heavy bag of work I will have to drag home every night, and all the extra activities and the life sucking energy that it takes to do a great job I get this big, empty sick feeling in my stomach … a feeling of panic comes upon me and feelings of dread. It also takes the form of mourning … the death of my summer life.

Norman Rockwell's Schoolitis

Norman Rockwell's Schoolitis

Schoolitis is not a logical disease. I love my job and once I get started again (in 3 short days) my schoolitis symptoms will disappear – they always do (school is the remedy). There will be days throughout the year where it might flare up again, but for the most part it is gone. I am too busy, I feel needed (too much so at times), things move fast, and the students keep me feeling young (well, younger).

The cause of Schoolitis is logical, however. In my opinion, it all comes down to living a life of extremes (a teacher’s life of nine intense work months and 3 months to recuperate) causing us to live a life out of balance. Our balance is too divided … too separated. The only solution I have been able to think of to balance, blend and meld our two lives together better is year long school. Intense work for 10 weeks and off for 3 weeks could balance out our lives a little better. Or, maybe we could go to 4 day weeks like some other schools in my area are doing for financial reasons? The days are longer, but I think longer weekends could help with the life balance, too.

Since I am currently suffering from Schoolitis, this post may sound a bit selfish (poor me). But, I am acutely aware that students suffer for the same reasons. Fixing our school schedules to balance out life better would help everyone be more productive, happier and healthier.

What other jobs are scheduled in such a way to throw life out of balance?

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~ by bearyweather on September 5, 2010.

6 Responses to “End of Summer Affliction . . .”

  1. I guess I never thought about it from a teacher’s perspective… To tell you the truth this is the first time I’ve ever heard of “Schoolitis” but it makes sense to me- summer holiday is a long one and it is perfectly understandable to feel disoriented when it comes to an end.
    Time flies, doesn’t it? 🙂 I wish you all the best with this new school year!

  2. Wishing you a good year, dear bear lover and woods lover. Knowing that you will bring the trees and animals into your classroom and that the students will sense your connection with nature.

  3. I hope you have a lovely school year…those kids are lucky to have you as an educator.

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