Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Twinlife on Sabbatical

I've been watching my Facebook feed for the last few weeks, noting when each of my colleagues and friends around the country shift from summer mode to school mode.  Most of the parent posts include snapshots of their children on the first day of school - and wonder at where the time has gone.  Most of the teacher posts lament the start of school - some with more angst than others.

I know both perspectives.  Tomorrow I will post pictures of my second graders, and I am saddened that they are headed back to school.  It's been a good summer that we've spent together, our first without a regular babysitter.  I've juggled work and mom life, and I've taken more time for the latter than I ever have before.  I will miss them when they are at school for 6.5 hours per day - and I will need to squeeze in quality time in the 3 hour block between school and bedtime.  It will be hard.

So I get the tinge of sadness that laces the parent posts together.  I also get the angst of my teacher-friends.  This September would have been my 17th start as a teacher.  Each year, as the end of August looms nearer, my heart races a little faster, my stomach starts to roll, and my stress meter rises higher.  Labor Day is usually full of labor as I prepare for my classes.  Excitement of a new start is usually tempered by the understanding that the intense workload - the responsibility for guiding my students to deep learning - will exhaust me.

But not this year.  This year I have ignored the barrage of back to school email.  I have left my textbooks on the shelf and my syllabi untouched in their folders.  My stomach hasn't rolled, and my stress level has been pretty stable.  I am not headed into the city for the opening meeting today and for the first day of classes.

I am on sabbatical.

Many professors take sabbaticals to travel the world.  I chose to stay close to home, where I can indulge in twinlife and grow as an educator.  I will be spending the semester as a visiting teacher in an 8th grade writing class in a local school.  My heart races a little faster - with excitement - at the possibilities in front of me.  I will work with middle schoolers (a first!), enjoy time for writing with colleagues, and be home in time to meet my kids at the bus stop.  Though I will be busy with work, it's a different kind of work, and I'm enjoying the break from normal back-to-school stress.

And today, rather than sitting in meetings, I will enjoy the sunshine with my kids one last time before the start of school.

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