Friday, November 19, 2021

Is It April Yet?

As I write this, it is mid-November.  The weather in Southern Nevada has been trying to hold onto summer as much as it can.  Temperatures had been hovering in the low 80s still and nights, absolutely gorgeous, in the high 50s or low 60s for most of the month, but days are starting to get a little cooler.  Rain, while desperately needed, has been nearly non-existent.  The first quarter of the school year has come and gone, and we have already completed mid-term progress reports for the second quarter.  "No School November" is upon us, with a four-day weekend for Veterans' Day behind us, then a two-day workweek for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Before long, students will be completing semester exams and we will be on a 2+ week winter holiday break.  

I have always enjoyed long weekends and breaks, but who doesn't?  Sleep can be hard to come by at times during the week and getting a little more of it, even if it means "sleeping in" until after 7:00 AM, is always welcome.  Watching a favorite show on (insert streaming service), binging college football and/or hockey all day, or settling in to watch a movie (Halloween Kills, anyone?) are weekend favorites of mine, as are getting outside for extended walks that are hard to come by during the week, catching up on some yard work or cleaning, or spending the whole day watching over a pork shoulder or beef brisket on the smoker while prepping things like coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, or any other barbeque favorites.  

This year, those breaks are even more welcome.  I know that I am not the only one that feels this way.  After the uncertainty of the last 20+ months, it's just different than before.  The hours seem longer.  The planning seems more tedious.  The time that used to go into grading is used to put out other fires that seem to pop up more often.  Turning on my computer and putting in work from home was rare before COVID, but now it is nearly non-existent; the last thing that I want to do is stare at a computer screen and do more work once I have walked through the door of my house.  And social media, the place where so many of us go to learn, to interact, to discuss?  I haven't scrolled through Facebook in a month and my time on Instagram and Twitter has diminished significantly.  

Nevada's state flag, showing the Battle Born
nickname and the state flower, the sagebrush
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
If you have been in education for more than a couple of years, there is a distinct feeling of tiredness that comes in the days before spring break, which for most schools comes in March or April.  While the fall semester is filled with days off like Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and in my home state of Nevada, a personal favorite, Nevada Day that is observed on the last Friday of October to celebrate Nevada's entry into the United States on October 31, 1864 (and because the nation was in the midst of the Civil War, Nevada is nicknamed the Battle Born State).  

The second half of the school year does not have these multiple days off.  Within a week or two of returning from winter break, most schools are off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  In February, some schools get a day off for Presidents Day.  But otherwise, most schools do not get any extended weekends or multiple days off to break up the long grind of the second semester.  So by the time that spring break does roll around, people are tired, students and teachers alike, and that week off is welcomed with open arms prior to returning for a few more weeks before final exams and summer break. 

This year, I feel this level of tired in November.  There are mornings where it is a struggle to roll out of bed and get to school.  It is not for a lack of desire to be there, I enjoy the classes that I teach, the kids that I work with on a daily basis, and even though I have a few students on my caseload that are definitely some of the most challenging students I have worked with in my career, it makes each day different and interesting and I couldn't ask for anything else in a career.   

For most of the fall, I was waking up before the sun to get a 3-4 mile walk in before work, something that was as good, if not better, than coffee to perk me up for the day.  Lately, morning walks have been few and far between; that extra hour or so of sleep is more enticing and on a lot of mornings, absolutely needed.  However, exercise is still important and part of my daily routine; November 18th marked my 365th day in a row of some form of exercise, whether it was a walk, a ride on the Peloton, yoga, or one of my two nights of rec league hockey.  

My colleagues are expressing many of the same feelings, so if you are reading this, I can imagine you are in the same boat.  Just know that we are all in this together and like the last almost 2 years, we will get through it and be better for it.  It's hard to frame your mind around it because you are so tired, but take care of yourself, take advantage of the downtime when you have it, and keep doing what you do on a daily basis.  

Until next time...

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