My first year of teaching I used to get “the Sundays.”
The Sundays would strike early Sunday afternoon right around the time I knew that having another cup of coffee would affect my sleep, rendering me a grouch at school the next day. These afternoons were spent stuck in a mixture of anxiety and guilt: anxiety that I wasn’t prepared enough for the week as I could be, and guilt that I didn’t use my weekend more fully to get work done so that I was more prepared. Ironically, one symptom of the Sundays is that you have a hard time falling asleep, because you keep thinking about the week ahead (as well as how you could have had that last cup of coffee anyway).
I’m now in my third year and so my Sundays are a lot milder (although I still limit the coffee intake). I’m a more efficient planner, and I have a better sense of what’s worth stressing over and what isn’t.
If you’re a teacher (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably experienced the Sundays. We teachers like to paint our profession as one of unparalleled stress, under-appreciation, and misunderstanding by the general public. But the truth of the matter is, I’m just ending a 10 day spring break. I’ve had a very restful time off of work. However, today happens to be Tuesday, and I find myself dealing with the Sundays once again.
I wonder what the Sundays are like for my students. While I grade past assignments and design new ones, students should be doing homework and revising old assignments. As I navigate the transition between my working life and my personal life, perhaps my students are eagerly awaiting a vacation from being at home and looking forward to seeing their friends.
Tomorrow, like the first day back from any vacation, there are likely to be some missing students. Sometimes it’s a family vacation that goes long or a sunny 80 degree day. I’ve always chuckled to hear some teachers say, “Some families don’t know when school starts again.” I wonder if some of my students will be missing because they’re still recovering from the Sundays, nervous about making that even fuzzier transition between their student lives and their personal ones.
I look forward to seeing them. Either tomorrow, or Thursday.
About our First Person series:
First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.