I remember when I was a kid, I read the book Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10. From what I remember, it’s the story of a group of students being shocked at (somehow) finding out that their homeroom teacher doesn’t live in her classroom. I know, it sounds kind of juvenile (hey, it’s a kids book…), but for whatever reason, this book was revolutionary to me. Finding out that teachers had lives outside of the classroom was a very eye-opening realization, and not one I particularly enjoyed–the fact that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Florence’s world didn’t revolve around me practically put me into an early life crisis.
And then, years later, I found out that not only did they have lives outside of mine, they had their summers off too! Are you kidding me? My parents left for work before I went to school, and were back around 6pm. My teachers obviously didn’t start work until I showed up around 8:30am, and then were (again, obviously) done by 3pm, AND they got their summers off!? What a cushy job!
It was right there and then, as a struggling eleven-year-old aspiring young comedian, that I decided teaching was for me.
Ten yeas later, I had a much wider picture of what an elementary teacher does (thank you Brent), and I wanted no part of it. Luckily for me, I did choose a vocation with summer breaks…sort of. Just about every education-based job revolves around the traditional academic schedule: fall, winter break, spring, summer break. While there are certainly different types (semesters, quarters, year-round), each one has its own seasons, its own rhythms, and its own perks.
I certainly consider myself lucky to have been working in the traditional semester system that past two years. While it’s a bit crazy from time to time, it’s definitely nice to have a much more relaxed May/June/July. However, within Residence Life (especially at the University of Portland) there are two months that change the entire year and make you want to soak up every single second of your summer break…
AUGUST: It begins. Everything begins. The RAs get back and we hit their training full speed for three solid weeks for 10+ hours a day. Then it’s the craziest, most exhausting, more over-hyped, extraordinary event known to humankind: college orientation. It’s insane. Students and parents are flying around, crying and screaming, yelling at me and my staff, asking all sorts of inane questions and well…it’s sad. Not pathetic (mostly), but just sad. It’s their impression of an institution in which they will be giving $200,000+ to over the next four years and I can’t imaging a more terrifying, stressful way to spend a 3-day weekend. Plus, the next time they hear from their kid it’ll most likely be to send more money. Nice.
FEBRUARY: Not only did we have to hire 45+ RAs (interviews, eveluations, applications, yay!), but we also had dozens of changes to the process which required almost a complete overhaul to the system, and then we started our senior staff (HD/AHD) selection process as well and even flew to Phoenix, AZ for a week interviewing candidates for 12 positions. This year was especially tough because I was serving on our Staff Selection Committee. I won’t even go into what that entails completely, but suffice it to say that we had our work cut out for us February through March.
While I’m still dreaming of jobs within student affairs, there are plenty of issues I have with my past positions. And while I’m not one to bite the hand that feeds me, nor am I to advocate whining for the sake of whining…well, I just figured I’d get this off my chest.
My hope for the future? Work/Life balance; something I haven’t had the last two years.
“Life” has taken a significant backseat over the past year and a half. Every time I’ve taken a vacation or called in sick or even left for a weekend, I’ve gotten gripe/glares/crap from staff and coworkers (and occasionally students). That’s not healthy. I understand that I only get 10 days vacation each year, but it’d be nice to take those guilt-free.
And while I’m very excited to build relationships with students, provide resources for them to better develop into well-rounded, mature individuals, and truly dedicate myself to the causes of students, building them up and feeding into their lives, I’m also looking forward to giving my wife what she needs: more time with me. And I’m looking forward to some more time with her too.
Here’s hoping that we can accomplish those goals, along with receiving a paycheck this fall.