Tick, tick, tick


If you aren’t a teacher, you won’t understand what I am about to write. In fact, you will no doubt be saying something along the lines of, “Oh, come on! How pathetic can you be? Just go to work and stop complaining.”

If you aren’t a teacher, and you’re actually thinking that?  I have only two words for you.

Shut.  Up.

This is the last night of our scheduled winter vacation.  Because Christmas and New Year’s both fell on a Wednesday, we’ve had a really long break.  Twelve whole days off.

Twelve days of no homework.  No classroom routine.  No writing in our book journals. No lining up.  No ten minute lunches. No morning meeting.  No recess rules.

We (and by “we” I obviously mean “the kids”) are out of practice.  When we return to our classroom on the first day back from a twelve day vacation, we have the following plan in mind:

Say Hi to everyone I haven’t seen for two whole weeks!                                                       Compare notes on who got what for presents!!!                                                                       Say Hi to everyone I saw on vacation!                                                                                       Show all my friends my new boots/mittens/hat/phone/books/pen/Kindle/lunchbox!     Go hug the teacher!                                                                                                                      Tell the teacher the hilarious story about  Uncle Benny and the melted candle!     Hahaha!                                                                                                                                          Try to remember where my desk is!                                                                                            Hug our assistant teacher! She is so AWESOME!! Tell her the hilarious story about Dad and the new pajamas!                                                                                                                        Shove everything into my desk (IS this my desk?) and turn to the kid beside me so that we can talk about the hilarious stories from vacation!!!

At no point in this exercise will the words “math” or “history” cross the mind of the student.  At no point will said student comment on how easy it is to slip right back into our classroom routine.

Thus, the first day back from a twelve day vacation will be spent by the teacher just trying to reacquaint everyone with the concept of “school”. No new learning will happen, I assure you.

And this all brings me to my feelings tonight.

First of all, let me be very clear.  I miss my kids!!!  I want to hug them, and show them my new coffee mug and tell them the hilarious story about my dog and his acupuncture treatments.  I am ready to be back in a routine. I am ready for regular mealtimes and regular sleep times.  I miss my friends!  I am ready to be back.

BUT.

In our school district, Thursday (ie: our first day back from vacation) is only a half day. The kids go to band or chorus in the morning, and they have a half hour at the end of the day with our Reading Buddies. On a normal Thursday, I absolutely love both of these special events; these are gifts that my students are given every week.  They are at the core of real learning. On a normal Thursday, in a normal week, it doesn’t bother me to know that I only have a half hour of teaching time with the class.

But tomorrow it’s going to be snowy.  Like wicked snowy.  As in “blizzard coming”.  As in “Nor’easter blowing in”.  We’re looking at 10 – 12 inches of snow.  Right in the middle of the school day.

Seriously.

So…….if they don’t call off school, I will have a two hour commute to my classroom, where I will be faced with 24 hysterically excited children who are pinging back and forth between “Christmas!” and “Blizzard!” No matter what I do, no body will learn anything.  I promise.

So you can imagine the level of my stress.  Tick, tick, tick.  The clock is ticking down the hours to my bedtime.  I have prepared all of my lessons.  My clothes are out and ready to go.  I have made my lunch.

But I really, really, really, do not want to slip and slide down the highway just so I can have my kids for a half hour. I really, really, really do not want to have a two hour commute back home, desperately praying that no tractor trailer jackknifes on the highway in front of me.   I really don’t.

So I am frantically monitoring the “School Closings” online.  At 3 pm there were two schools closed. Now, at 6:45, there are 54.  Not one of them is the district where I teach.

Tick, tick, tick.   I hear the ticking clock of doom.  Soon I will have to go to bed, leaving my phone under my pillow, where I will check it approximately every 22 seconds until dawn.

If you are not a teacher, I bet you are laughing at me right now.

26 thoughts on “Tick, tick, tick

  1. I do not envy you. If there is one good thing about retirement, it’s NOT having to commute through the New England winter! I hope it isn’t as bad as they are saying … OR as cold, because they are calling for below zero temps around here and that is not a good thought.

    Good luck!!

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    • Thank you for “getting it”, Marilyn! To further crush my soul, one of my dearest and neediest students has a birthday tomorrow, and has been emailing me for days about it……But after 19 years of commuting down Rt. 2 in the ice and snow, I am just. so. done.!!!
      Be warm tomorrow!

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  2. I totally get it!! Luckily, my clock gets to tick until Monday. Hopefully, the snow will be melted by then. One year, we had 8 inches of snow the night before break ended and school was cancelled. I know that I had just had 2 weeks off, but that was the best snow day ever! Good luck tomorrow and enjoy the craziness 🙂

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  3. Oh Karen! I am not a teacher, but I do work in a school, and I understand exactly what you mean! We have not been cancelled yet and I, like you, keep checking the closings. Our students were blessed with a half day on Friday the 20th….not because it was the Friday before Christmas…..but because the teacher’s had an in-service day. That’s right….dismissal was at 11am and they were given an hour for lunch and at noon reported to the Lecture Hall for a power point presentation regarding new admissions policies, followed by Department Head meetings and Data Committee meetings. I’d be interested in knowing how many, if any, of the staff found this helpful or even remember it. I know as soon as those buses pulled out with the students, my mind was planning what store I would hit first upon dismissal, what I needed for food for the holiday and what else I needed to do before the upcoming holiday. Even in high school the kids come back all pumped to share their Christmas stories and don’t “settle back in” until a few days. I say cancel school, get the roads and sidewalks and parking lots safely cleared, wish us all a good weekend and open the schools on Monday!

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  4. I actually read this when you posted it but I didn’t leave a comment.

    I’m not a teacher, but I go to an internship class every Thursday and work with second graders, so I somewhat know the frustration. If anything, I can definitely relate to the stories the kids have to tell. I walk into the classroom some Thursdays and the kids literally run around me and spit stories in my face — it’s adorable, but overwhelming. The amount of time it takes to get them settled back down is crazy as well, because the second you’ve figured out a way to stop one student from talking 22 others are doing the same.

    I bet it’s worse for you, because you have to control a whole class all by yourself — I actually am just a teachers helper so I don’t know the real deal, but I can only imagine.

    I really hope your district decides to close up, I’ll include that in my desperate prayers for my own school to be closed tomorow.

    Have a good one, and try to get some rest.

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    • Thanks for the support and the prayers! Funny, but I actually really love the first day back from vacation, when we all just talk and laugh and hug and act happy to see each other. I am supremely sad to think of missing it if my school is in fact open.
      Cool that you’re a teaching intern! Second grade is a great age!
      Good night!

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    • Happy New Year! I had a dream about you last night…is that creepy?
      Oddly enough, we have an “early dismissal” today, which means that for the elementary, its a regular day. Weird. I am home with a very achy back, though; just feeling so guilty that I won’t see the kids!
      Tucker, our hound dog, has been having acupuncture for back problems for a couple of years now. Works wonders and beats the heck out of the surgery that was recommended at one point!

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  5. Three towns on our tiny island…one has closed (made the decision last night), other two are open.
    (Don’t get me started on the fact that there are THREE separate districts here – makes no sense to a gal who grew up in a school district the size of half the state of RI!)
    I’m not a teacher, but I am the daughter of a (now-retired) teacher. I totally get where you’re coming from…small kids (and some of the bigger ones) have to have re-entry time. The snow will make it worse (for learning). If this storm does what they say it will, no one will go on Friday…so what’s the point of a half-day? Hope they cancel for you…for safety’s sake.
    (I also do NOT want to take my granddaughter to preschool this morning…for what it’s worth 😉 )

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    • I was so sad! My back is really thrown, and I didn’t dare face the two hour commute today. Plus: Kate had to drive, and she didn’t feel well either. I stayed home but the kids were there……So sad to have missed that chatter!

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  6. Moms: I once was a teacher for a brief time in my journey and I started getting hives reading your story. I taught in a region that rarely closed schools–the snow could be 3 feet deep and they’d still keep the schools open. Getting back to the routine with the kids was always the hardest. Hope you feel better soon, and a very Happy New Year to you.

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    • Happy New Year to you, Eleanor!
      I keep revisiting and thinking about sections of your book! You give me the courage to say, “Oh, no you don’t” to those negative folks in my life.
      Thank you!!!
      How was your visit with the kids and that beautiful grandson?

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      • The visit was great. My grandson is a hoot. 5 year olds are a crack up. We took him on a trip to see the Luray Caverns. It was about a 2 hour drive to get there and he kept asking every two seconds, “are we there yet?” Finally, after the 5th ask with the definition of going up into the mountains and showing him the emerging mountains, a light bulb went off in his head and he said: “Oh, I get it–this is a field trip!” At that moment, he sat back fell asleep, and didn’t ask another question. He also loved the caverns. What a riot! So glad you liked the book. Please tell all your friends and please leave a review on Amazon if you are so inclined. Happy New Year!

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  7. So did you get an extra day off? I had heard that many schools were anticipating Friday being a snow day and simply called off Thursday too in an effort to avoid heating the furnace for 1 day. I’ve also heard that that same furnace sometimes doesn’t heat up until the end of the school day or the following day so perhaps that was a good call, you know, in school budget world. But a half day of trying to teach and not be a Buzzkill on the “catching up time” on a blizzard the day after vacation sounds really ridiculous! Hope you got the day off…and Friday too!

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