spring break teacher

Teachers: What if You Actually Took Spring Break Off?

Mar 29, 2022

Are you an educator? Yes? Well that means either Spring Break is coming up or maybe you’re on it right now. Well whenever your next break starts, I want you to do something real quick. I want you to take out your phone and hit the DO NOT DISTURB button. And maybe keep it on all week long.

Maybe even set your email to auto-respond.

But wait, what if a parent texts or emails? They usually expect me to answer their texts right away.

They’ll just have to wait until your break is over.

But what if I get a notification from the Bloomz, Remind, Class Dojo, or whatever app?

That’ll just have to wait until your break is over too.

But what if my principal has a question for me during break about a student’s grade or about my evaluation coming up or something else they think is urgent?

They will just have to wait until your break is over.

But what if a student has a question about an assignment we started and they’re trying to work on it over the break?

Well first, good student, but they’ll just have to wait until your break is over. Because here’s the deal, it can wait until your break is over. It’s called break because there’s supposed to be a gap in your work-life. You need one. I know parents, administrators, and students can sometimes expect you to be on at all times, to be on in the evenings, and the weekends, and during breaks, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.

You need time to be off, unplugged, unreachable- where you can then recharge so that you can effectively answer all of the communications and be back on.

You are not a human doing, you’re a human being, and you need time to just be, to not do things and communicate at all times of the day.

Okay, I won’t check emails and texts over break, but I do need to tackle all of my grading and plan out the rest of the year.

Yeah, I don’t recommend that either. I mean, I get the temptation and the realities to do this. There’s always so much to do and never enough time to do it. And maybe a week off seems like the right time to knock it all out, but your brain needs rest. Your body needs rest. It’s why there’s a break for students and for you. It’s not possible to overflow from an empty cup.

And so if all of the time during break is spent hunched over a laptop, thinking about your work, grading your work, planning your work, you are only giving and not receiving. You’re pouring out without getting filled back up.

Now, if there is some grading and planning that has to get done, dedicate a little time to it. Cut out an hour a day to accomplish some of that over the break. But set an alarm for an hour, and turn off that computer when the alarm goes off, even if you didn’t finish.

And then go read a book that has nothing to do with teaching. Go on a hike, play with your kids, binge a show on Netflix, listen to music, find an adventure, do something that has nothing to do with school, and don't feel guilty for a second about it.

So use DO NOT DISTURB on your phone, snooze those evening emails, let the phone ring, and take off your teacher hat for a bit. What you’re going to find is that this rest, this saying no to communicating with work during your off-time, will in fact make you a better teacher when you’re back on.

The author Annie Lamott said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.” I like that. So whether it’s spring break, the weekend, or even this evening, I hope you can unplug and rest.

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