Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m a teacher. I love my job. I love the students, the subjects, and
knowing that I am actively making a difference in people’s lives. I love
when people see me in the mall and tell me how much I helped them.
But I hate that non-teachers think my life is such a cushy ride, and
that I have three carefree months off. My work year ends in mid/late
June and it starts in mid August. That’s maybe two weeks more than
most people. I don’t have to go in and prepare my room or attend in-
service meetings for a few weeks, but I wake up every day anxious
and worried about how I am possibly going to get it all done, and
whether I have another year in me of no time for me. I feel like I just
got into my bathing suit and the chaise is being yanked out from under
me. How can I convey my frustration to snotty people who don’t get
the dedication it takes to be a teacher, would never work for the
peanuts I make, and who certainly wouldn’t put in the 60 hour weeks
that my colleagues and I do?
No one who hasn’t taught can understand how much mental and
emotional energy good teachers invest in their student. A society that
pays media stars zillions and teacher peanuts has its priorities very
upside down. So on behalf of those who get it, Thanks.
What you can do is to put yourself on a work diet for the remains of
summer and your life on a schedule that’ll last through the school
year. Now. Before the crazy busy times start again. Decide what in life
makes you happy, other than work. Get out your calendar and
schedule those activities in, with indelible black ink, from now through
the end of the year. Promise yourself leisure time each day, and I’m
not talking about holding the remote till your eyes close. I mean with a
book, with friends, your spouse. Movies and meals and whatever your
favorite exercise and hobby is. Things that keep you human and
happy. Because if you don’t make a point of doing those in summer,
and throughout the teaching year, the world’s going to lose a good
teacher to burnout.
As for the critics, look at them and say, I work 60 hours a week for
peanuts. And I love what I do. Do you want to trade careers?