Talk to any teacher in February and they will, with slightly glazed eyes, tell you they are terribly behind on their grading. Talk to them at the end of May and they will gasp out a few exhausted comments on how they are ready to come up for air and recover over the summer. Teaching is hard work. Obviously. However, it ought not to be the kind of hard work that leaves us drowning: desperately swimming against an impossible current of busy work. We lie to our students about the nature of learning if we are constantly wading through piles of papers or buried in our laptops typing up lesson plans, researching discussion questions, and escaping to the adult world through our email, social media, and news outlets. Instead, we should be reading books, engaging in conversations, and then grading and lesson-planning. Ordering our workday around principles of joyful work and appropriate rest will yield a more honest teacher, better instruction, and healthier students.
Amanda Patchin is an instructor at The Ambrose School, where she teaches Medieval History, Literature, and Philosophy to high school juniors. She reads a bit more than average and loves nothing more than conversation about a good book. Her love of the written word occasionally produces a poem or an article and her love of food often produces dinner.