22. What happens when the routine is what holds it all together?

It has begun.  The end of the year Facebook rants from teachers, myself included, about needing the year to be over.  Here in New York City we always work until the end of June, I think for the most part because we have more religious holidays in our school calendar than many other parts of the country most recently, the long awaited addition of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.  For high school teachers, the last two weeks of school are the administration of NY State Regents Exams, content specific tests that all students must pass a minimum to graduate.  For the K-8 crowd, it is a different story and I am sure in many ways even more exhausting than for HS teachers.  

While I don't mind being busy, I find that I depend on the routine and the business of the calendar.  This is my light week:

The longer I teach, the more I know I thrive in the routine.  I wake up at 5:30 AM, take my pill, shower, get ready, make lunch, walk to train (I have 2 routes I always take- there is no variation), get coffee , 99% of the time iced- even in the winter (there are also two coffee places, but I prefer the cart across from my school over the corner deli, but the deli has better blueberry muffins), go in, work through my day and what ever after school activities I have, train home, usually have dinner with my husband, watch an episode of something while doing last minute work/email/grading, in bed by 10.  Wake up- repeat.  I AM a creature of habit.

I know that not all teachers are like me.  There are the teachers who need the time off to decompress, to spend time with friends and family, to travel, to pursue other interests.  After about 2 weeks I begin to get stir crazy.  Two weeks is enough time for me to catch up on sleep, go to a couple movies, see non teacher friends who I otherwise never get to see because I get up at 5:30 in the morning and struggle to stay awake past 9.  I am already 6 weeks into reevaluating my curriculum for the next year and wanting to dig in and start again.  (This process usually begins around Memorial Day, sometimes earlier.)  By three weeks in I begin to struggle with the time off.  There is only so much sleeping one can do. I don't have children so my time is my own and last summer was the worst yet and I would say I was a bit manic.  

This year was nutty.  I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February and have been recovering since then.  My body is more tired than usually and it is hard to tell if it is school or my now removed thyroid that is contributing to my exhaustion.   I remember standing in my principal's office in early March, prior to my thyroidectomy, and telling him that having cancer was not going to slow me down.  That I would continue to move forward and pursue my career goals and I have done just that.  I just started a summer class at NYU that will take me through the end of July and in the fall I will be heading back to school to begin a second MA in addition to teaching Theatre and AP Lang and Comp next year.  I have a lot on my plate.  It's good.  

So how do I fortify and refuel while keeping myself on a schedule?  Honestly, I am not sure yet.  I know I thrive when I am busy and I will look for other things I love, in addition to my summer class and curriculum planning.  I have a trip to the west coast the last week in July and vacation with my husband the first week in August.  We go back to work mid August and I find myself counting the days as establishing routine will hold me together.


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