It would probably start around mid-Sunday afternoon as I settled down with a cup of tea and a selection of planning and marking. A creeping feeling of resentment that my weekend was being taken up with work didn’t engender enjoyment of the job. Engaging lessons and a variety of ideas then required the construction of a stash of resources. Investing thought into what would help individual children learn best was a valuable part of my weekend, but stopped the investment in valuable family time too.
By Sunday evening, I was braced for the week ahead with a familiar feeling of dread creeping over me. Mentally I was preparing for a fairly endless teach, create, plan, mark rotation until Friday. Guilt-ridden thoughts over what I’d not yet achieved would clamber into my mind and I’d feel exhausted again: it wasn’t even Monday. Paperwork, a form to fill in, those final ten books I’d run out of energy for.
It was worse in the holidays. I’d enjoyed a week, or dare I say it, five weeks of no children, and being present in school only if wearing jeans and on my own timescale. The scale of time spent without the Sunday evening emotional pile-up was proportional to the severity of it at the other end of the break.
Teachers want to do their best in whatever they do. To teach the best lessons, get the kids excited about learning, and just have them learn lessons, incidental or intentional. We want them to enjoy school, being in our class, our after school club. That weekly endlessness would be combined with amusing comments you try not to smile at, unintentionally hilarious spellings, Eureka moments over fractions and the moment when a child in your class writes what you believe may one day lead to a Nobel Prize for Literature, for which you will take some credit as they were in your class. These are wonderful, treasured moments. But it’s hard to find those on a Sunday.
Teaching does not lend itself to perfectionism. Or finishing a to do list. I’d hear my friend, half an hour of work later, had finished her prep for the week and wonder how others could fit into such short times what I had barely begun.
Teaching is a way of life. It’s a vocation not a career. It’s something people often do for the love of what it achieves.
Sunday afternoons now consist of what Sunday afternoons should. Tea, friends, film watching, walking, visiting a good old National Trust property and wearing your wellies. The feeling of abject dread is no longer there. My Sunday is just a Sunday. I go out, I don’t feel guilty. I watch TV, and that’s okay.
It’s unlikely I was ever going to miss the Sunday blues. Looking back I can see just how blue Sundays made me feel. Now? They look rosy, warm and comforting. I even sometimes look forward to work…