This was one of the most difficult weeks I’ve gone through this year. It felt a million years long, had several not-so-great events, and toward the end I began to develop a whopper of a head cold (which I am dealing with today and hoping to have shaken off by Monday). I’m exhausted, I’m sick, and I’m still behind in my work despite having requested (and received!) a planning day this past Monday to attempt to catch up.
It’s just not enough. I’m doing 2-4 times as much work as teachers who teach only one or two “preps” (subjects, e.g. Algebra 1 and Geometry) but I have the same amount of time to plan. I’m doing my best, but this planning on top of the difficulty level of the topics I teach and the grading that results is really weighing me down. It was a worry I had when deciding whether I would accept this position, and it turns out my fears were well founded.
Unfortunately this has led me to break a personal rule that I have set for myself since day one of teaching – I am going to have to start planning for a small segment of time on the weekend days. If I don’t, I’m going to go crazy from stress and being overworked. I’m going to get sick more often. And right now I’m not writing anything on my book or going to the gym, two things that were contributing to my physical and mental health over the summer and are sorely needed now.
So I’m going to plan for the upcoming week on the weekend: two preps on Saturday and two of them on Sunday. This means I can leave my planning periods and after-school contract time for grading only, something I have been consistently falling behind in favor of planning my instruction.
Mondays and Wednesdays I don’t have meetings, so I’m planning to leave around 2:30 to get to the gym before 3:15 so I can spend about an hour there doing cardio and strength training. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have meetings so I’ll grade at the meetings and leave at 3:00pm to come straight home. Eventually, if this routine works, these will become gym days too. Fridays will probably also become gym days but I want to give this routine a chance first and I don’t want to tucker myself out going from nothing to EVERY DAY.
I figured out that to hit 100,000 words I have to write 850 words every day between now and Halloween. Tbh, once I get going I usually write more than that, but the trick here is to make sure I have the time and the energy to actually open up the document and add stuff. So every week day I’m going to shut myself in my office at 5pm and write for no more than one hour. Usually the husband gets home around 5:30/6 from his trip to the gym, so I’ll have the solitude for writing. On the weekends I’m going to go in around 10am with a cup of coffee to get the job done. This first draft is SO CLOSE to being done and I know what I want to happen so LET’S DO THIS.
On top of the exercising and writing, I have been trying to eat better so I also want to get back to tracking my intake on MyFitnessPal. My sodium and sugar intakes are things I keep an eye on because I am sensitive to those, but overall I use the site to be sure I’m balancing my diet well.
I am hoping that by spreading my work into the weekend it will make living my normal life during the week more enjoyable. Next year won’t be like this. I’ll have my plans organized to be reused and I’ll only need to worry about keeping up with grading. But for this year, and this year only, I have to invest extra time or I’m going to lose it. I’m gonna get sick and depressed and fatter and more uncomfortable just to stick to these resolutions that are justifiable, but not tenable in my current situation.
If you are interested in hearing more about how teachers are overworked AND underpaid, check out this week’s TIME magazine cover series on teachers in America.