By Nick McDaniels — After six long, hard-fought weeks of uninterrupted instruction, as the weather warmed, the hormones awakened, attention spans shortened, and the fists began to fly, Spring Break has arrived. And though the break is much needed for physical and psychological well-beings of teachers and students, I find myself slightly ungrateful.
I was complaining to my wife, who listens because our house is too small for her to have a choice, about how I am so afraid that I might not have time to finish To Kill a Mockingbird and A Lesson Before Dying with my honors students before the end of the year and how I don’t know what else to teach to my standard students because we’ve finished nearly everything in the curriculum. She quickly brought me to my senses.
Without Spring Break, she reminded me, I wouldn’t be able mow the grass, trim the hedges, mulch the flower beds, water the trees, plant the garden, fix the garage roof, paint the kitchen, repaint the den, and install our porch swing. Realizing then, that, like my honors English curriculum, I now had another list of unfinishable tasks, I reminded her that without Spring Break, I wouldn’t be able to spend my days crawling around in the back yard with our daughter and spend my evenings on the front porch drinking iced tea and reading books.
This conversation reminded me, as a teacher worried about curriculum and providing my students with as much as I can before they leave for the summer, that I still also need to be a person worried about the physical and mental well-being of myself and my students. By Friday, April 15th, our last day before break, my students had all but packed it in. They were tired of listening to me, tired of reading books, tired of writing responses, and generally tired of sitting inside as the Maryland Spring weather gets nicer and nicer. They need a break to rejuvenate and refocus, so we can finish the year strong together. They, like us adults, need a week away from work, a vacation to play, hopefully outside, and be children.
As for me, I need to play outside too, and not let my daughter eat too much dirt or too many insects. I need to cross a few things off of the honey-do list, and I need to relax a bit to regain my sense of patience for dealing with the flirtation and fisticuffs of high school students that make up much of May and June in Baltimore schools. I’m excited to get back to work next week and then worry about how we’re going to finish a novel and a half in three weeks. I’m also excited to spend a week at home, where the only things I wonder about are, is that diaper clean and is my sweet tea empty?