Sunday, March 9, 2008

how to keep your sanity as a teacher

Once I got my first job as a teacher I had romantic notions of leaving school on Friday with a backpack full of journals or papers to grade, intent on spending the weekend immersed in student work. The administrators would chuckle admiringly saying, "Boy is he a dedicated teacher!"

Then I found out that it wasn't fun to spend your weekend grading papers.

I got into some bad habits my first few years of teaching. I remember my first year spending Thanksgiving day grading comma exercises. I also got into some bad habits: I spent Sundays at the school running off copies and grading papers, feeling like I had lost one of the days of my weekend.

I grew tired of it. So what did I do? I just stopped.

Spending weekends grading papers was a habit that I had fallen into, just like any other bad habit: smoking, alcohol, checking my email too often. And the only way to stop was just to stop.

I tell my students early on in the year that the weekends is not their time, it's time that I get to spend with my family. To do otherwise is to steal time from my wife and my son.

This weekend I went sledding, attended an OSU basketball game, and went to a high school play. I also had a stack of papers that needed to be graded.

But I knew that I would get to my grading eventually. And what I have come to realize is that everything gets done eventually. I don't need to grade papers over the weekend if I spend my time at school wisely.

Don't get caught in the grading trap. Just try leaving your papers on your desk. Spend time with your loved ones. I guaruntee you will be able to enjoy your weekends more.

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