Back to School

nice art in our office

Next week I go back to school. The transitions from break to semester and semester to break are always hard for me. I’m very routine-oriented (if you know me, you might have noticed this just a tiny bit), and I like things to just stay the same. Getting a new semester started is hard and stressful, with all the planning, scheduling, meeting new students. And getting your brain readjusted to multitasking and keeping track of a billion assignments and appointments and duties, in contrast to vacation which is simple: write, work out, see friends and family.

 But changes in my schedule are good for me. They are good practice in not turning into a robot. And there are tons of good things about going back to work: my old students, my new students, my exceptionally awesome coworkers, getting paid to read books and discuss them with people, getting paid to read about other people’s thoughts and ideas and lives. Also I have a very nice office which my office-mate and I vacated of unnecessary furniture and filled with art and couches and tea.

 Sometimes bitter, jealous people will begrudge teachers our vacations: It must be nice to have summers off, they say. Which it is, and that is why our teaching programs are overflowing with America’s most promising young people, eager to get in on some of that sweet, sweet vacation time. I think all jobs should have three months off. Imagine all the awesome gardening and traveling and knitting and exercising and art all those people would do. Imagine how relaxed everyone would be.

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4 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. I love this post, Karin. Your observations are spot on. Now in my second year of teaching full time, I’m getting a feel for the ebb and flow of teaching a full load versus the essential time to recharge between semesters. Having worked as an executive in banking for 30 years, I can report that most of the time in my prior career my day-to-day life did not come close to the intensity and demand on one’s time of grading essays all weekend and teaching some 90 students, all of whom expect and deserve our best teaching during class and our attention to their work and progress. Teaching looks easy from the outside, and many people in business would like to make the transition to teaching in their later years because it seems so quixotic and fulfilling. In fact, it IS fulfilling, and every day I cannot believe how fortunate I am. But it is also hard work. And serving on committees and participating in shared governance take tremendous time and energy that most people don’t see. It’s true, as you say, that our jobs are rewarding because we get to work with awesome colleagues and get paid to read books and discuss them with people and get paid to read about other people’s thoughts and ideas and lives – I mean, what is not to love about that? Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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  2. Thanks, Jim! It’s comforting when people who’ve had other types of jobs confirm how intense and all-consuming teaching is. I’ve never had another job (except waitressing and cashiering, both pretty tiring), so I have no frame of reference. I still support three months off for everyone!

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