The first week of school is exhausting and overwhelming for everyone.
Syllabi. Forms to fill out. Calendars to fill in.
The reality of the free summer hours vanishing before your eyes with every single paper that crosses your path.
I’m a grown-up though and I’m okay with it.
But watching the kids…every year it is the same.
Some are resigned to the fact that this is life.
Others…others have this look of panic in their eyes.
These kids are usually in my honors classes. And most often they are my seniors.
They have tough schedules that sounded good whenever they made them. Competitive. Challenging. They’ve signed up for activities that will look good on applications and give them all kinds of Important and Impressive Opportunities.
And then they start to see any amount of free time vanish.
I understand that. I know exactly how it feels because I feel the same things that first week of school.
But I also know that this will be a pattern they will continue.
Life doesn’t get Less Busy. You might get a vacation here or there, but it feels like every year there are more things that get added to the list of responsibilities – and all of those things take time. Clubs and organizations in college give way to jobs and puppies and spouses and children. Dorm rooms that need cleaned and laundry for one turns into houses and the never-ending quest to reach Laundry Zero later on.
I don’t regret acquiring any one of those responsibilities that I have.
I just know that for my own mental well-being, I need to make sure that I’m a priority, too.
These thoughts all started swirling in my head yesterday after I invited my students to challenge themselves to read 40 books this year. Not surprisingly, it was my hyper-scheduled seniors who offered the loudest response. There were those who responded positively but there were many who were clearly thinking I had lost my mind.
I was talking about it in the context of setting good habits and that I think that reading is so vitally important for all of us that we need to set that good habit of making time to read. I told them my expectation was 20 minutes of self-chosen reading a night. Not text messages. Not Facebook. Books, magazine articles, news – anything that they choose that isn’t assigned.
I think half of my words were lost because all they heard was that they needed to read 40 books for this class.
I’ll try again today.
I was trying to think back to my senior year to think about what I would have thought if I’d heard the same thing.
I’d like to think I would have responded with a smile on my face, but I’m not sure. I loved to read, but I think I might also have felt far too overwhelmed to appreciate the invitation.
No matter, I’m looking forward to seeing my students again today and trying again.
And so I’m off to enjoy an early morning workout before an incredibly long Day 3 of school. I doubt I’ll log anything like the five and a half miles I did on the bike yesterday, but anything will be better than nothing since I may just need the extra sleep tomorrow morning. (We have Open House tonight from 7-9. That might not feel late for many, but it certainly is exhausting for me.)