This morning, Matt tweeted out an article about the relative stress levels of different professions. He noted that teachers were in the top five and encouraged educators to relax over the summer.

I retweeted the article after I read it. But after I did, I realized I struggle with what relaxing means. Today, for example, I read one book and got through a good chunk of another. I walked to a restaurant about 1.5 miles from my house and had lunch. I took a nap and bought some school supplies. I watched a documentary. I imagine that kind of day might be some people’s dream, but at the end of the day, I’m feeling gross and unfocused.

I’ve taken a little good-natured ribbing recently because I’ve got a fair amount on my plate this summer, but I’m not sure how to do things differently or if I’d want to. I certainly can get over-committed during the school year, but I feel equally daunted by the free time of the summer.

How do you relax without feeling like you’re wallowing?


5 thoughts on “Relax

  1. I wonder if our professional suffers from such depression because of the lack of control we have over what our work is – I write this from the public school setting. I also write this as someone who doesn’t really know how to relax.

    I would suggest, even so, that we use summer not so much to recharge our batteries, as to take more control over the circumstances of our work. These are the weeks we have with which to meet with administrators, school board members, and legislators to educate them all about the visions of education we value – the ones our leaders seem to have turned their backs on in their sprint to “the top.”

    Some might argue that we should rest to get ready for the next instances of the battles we routinely fight. I argue that we should work at least part of the summer to change the conversation and sidestep the battles the media and politicians expect us to join and lose.

    All the best,

  2. I think teachers are, by nature, work-a-holics! To me, relaxing during the summer means taking the time to read the educational books and blogs, and attending the many educational web conferences to improve my craft. I always feel refreshed after a day of self-selected PD that I didn’t have time for during the school year.

  3. During the school year I focus on investing energy in my students. During the summer I invest my energy in my content. As an artist and art teach spending the summer working on my own art and recharging my passion battery is key to keeping up the energy in my room during the next school year.

    It looks a lot like work, but it’s the work that I love that gets put on hold during the school year. So, I would argue that “taking it easy” would actually feed into a sense of depression for me.

    Acknowledging that I have to accept this division of time in my life is key in my survival and ability to avoid burnout.

  4. I agree with Chad. So often, depression arrives with and is fed by a feeling of powerlessness. My instinct would be to try to do a little grassroots organizing with colleagues, to do a little local political action, as Peter Taubman says.

    But doesn’t your chosen form of relaxation depend on what kind of exhaustion you feel? Although I have a big public persona, I need lots of alone time to recharge. Somehow my soul gets to feeling all squashed by all the needs and wants of folks around me, so there’s a fair amount of staring into space in the first days of summer. And sleep.

    But after a couple of days, I need a new rhythm. I need a professional project or two. I need to learn– my own informal research projects. I need to hike, bicycle, bake. I need to be in the garden. The past few years, I haven’t had a traditional teacher’s summer, which turns out to be a better match to my work style.

    I think it’s all about knowing yourself. If a full plate floats your boat, then go for it!

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