Back to School: August Is the Longest Sunday

Heading back to school after all of this summer...

Some of my summer adventures: Wedding at the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, Measure for Measure in Brooklyn Bridge Park at sunset, the cat helping with my new sheets, Coney Island, a trip to Abbot’s Frozen Custard, the cat helping to unpack the CSA share (or trying to eat the lettuce), Mexican takeout for the 4th, knitting while waiting in line for Cymbeline tickets (Shakespeare in the Park), street art and a fancy pedicure.

There’s this narrative about teachers and the end of summer.

That we’re just as sad to go back to school as the kids are (another narrative we maybe need to think about).

That we’re dragging ourselves out of bed.

That we’re dreading the first day of school.

That our lives are so much better over the summer without our students and our colleagues.

Kind of like this comic that a friend posted to my Facebook wall:

you have to your a teacher

I tried to find where this image came from to attribute it, but all I have is Facebook.

I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed waking up at 8 instead of at 5:45, going for runs in the morning, reading in the park, cooking a leisurely lunch. I liked having time to indulge my non-teacher-related passions (knitting, reading books written for adults, starting to train for a half marathon) and to engage in professional learning. And I, admittedly, was annoyed when I walked into Target in early July and saw back to school displays up. But just because I enjoyed the summer doesn’t mean I’m not excited to go back to school. And I think that’s the problem with our narrative. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and when we focus on the not wanting summer to end, we’re missing something.

I can enjoy my vacation time, even relish doing a different kind of teaching, having a different schedule and the ability do laundry in the middle of the day on a weekday when no one else is in the laundromat and go to Trader Joe’s when the line is almost guaranteed to be short. I can even be sad to see it go and wish I got one more trip to the beach or one more uncrowded trip to the laundromat. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy my work, and it doesn’t mean I’m dreading going back. In fact, I’m pretty excited to head back to school tomorrow. I’m excited to see my colleagues, to plan for student learning, to jump in with both feet and try out everything I learned this summer. Neither one negates the other.

A friend of mine referred to August as the longest Sunday night. And I have to say I agree. The end of summer comes with everything that the end of the weekend does: excitement about starting something new, anxiety about both starting something new and sleeping through your alarm clock, a little sadness about having less free time, the desire to have a long, leisurely lunch or brunch before you’re back to oatmeal for breakfast at 6:30 and a salad for lunch 11:30, a brain spinning with new ideas and new things to try.

Todd Whitaker says that if we want to work in a positive place we need to celebrate the Mondays. That means we also need to celebrate the first day back for faculty when the summer finishes. Tonight is the end of my long Sunday, and tomorrow morning, I intend to celebrate my Monday. Will you join me?

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