On scheduling and mental health

Have I mentioned how much I love my schedule this year? My district changed the timing of our day again this year, moving the start of the school day to an obscenely late 9:30 AM and the end of the day until 4:30, which … okay, I know lots of people work later than that, and I know about the research suggesting that a later start time is better for adolescent kids, but what I can also tell you is that still being in school at 4:30 is pretty clearly not an ideal situation for these kids. The middle schools have the latest schedule, which has led to some problems lately as the high school students have time to leave school and make it to the middle schools to start trouble before we dismiss our kids.

I have kids with me straight from 9:30 until 3:00, excepting only my half hour for lunch, which is more like 20 minutes once I get the kids there and wait for the cafeteria to be open and get my food and get back upstairs and maybe get a bathroom break, which … well, isn’t that bad, actually, as two groups and then lunch is perfectly manageable and after 18 years of teaching I’m used to eating lunch with a quickness. But that’s not why I bring this up; I bring this up because being done with teaching two class periods before the end of the day means that whatever bullshit I have to deal with is dealt with before I get home. Any frustration and stress that accumulates through the day has more than enough time to bleed off– most of the time, at least– before I go home. I have a team meeting 8th hour every day, which gives me 7th to get my head back on straight so that I can be useful during our meeting.

It’s great. It’s amazing how much less visibly exhausted I am than the other teachers at the end of the day, and it’s not because of my sunny fuckin’ disposition or my can-do attitude, it’s because I’m missing the students when they’re collectively at their worst and I have time to decompress and become human again before I go home and lock myself in my office to play video games interact with my wife and son. This has not been a bad year so far, all told, although it’s had its moments so far– more on that later this weekend, maybe– and part of that is that I’m not bringing it home. And all of that is based basically on a roll of the dice, since it’s not like the counselor consulted with me before she set everything up.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

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