October is the month of crisp weather, turning leaves, and depressed teachers. A month with no national holidays and no end in sight; October is so far from June. It’s the point in the school year where the honeymoon period is over and students are earnestly pushing boundaries as far as possible. But this slump can be overcome! Here are my go-to survival tips for Suctober:
- Take a Wednesday off: I recommend this coming Wednesday because the third week of October is the worst. Wednesdays are particularly decadent because you can’t go out of town or do anything three-day-weekend-spectacular worthy – you just read, watch TV, or (let’s be honest) sleep. Your students will be fine without you and in fact, they will have a better teacher because you will return to them rested and eager to do it again. RESIST the temptation to make this a “catch up day” and grade or plan. Do not do it. Rest.
- Watch your favorite movie: If you have a particularly bad day you should watch your favorite movie. Maybe not all the way through but at least a nice little chunk of it. Subsequently, in our house, October is the month of Jason Bourne and You’ve Got Mail (no judging my husband for loving a Meg Ryan flick . . . ok so that’s me).
- Stop paying close attention to the news: I am not advocating ignorance here but there is no question ignorance can bring a little bliss. My rule lately is I listen/read until I become angry or disgusted which, in an election year, is pretty darn fast.
- Exercise: Go for a run or walk or whatever you do to get the endorphins flowing.
- Avoid talking to negative people at work: Typically you can handle Ms. Negative in the teachers lounge however in October she is toxic. It may feel good to indulge in a little talk about how your school is the very source of evil but it will bring you down in the long run. In fact October might be a good time to just avoid hanging out with too many teachers. Even the best of us are feeling crappy.
- Remind yourself why this work is sacred: Tap into the reasons why you became a teacher. Hang an inspirational quote about being a teacher in your classroom. Tell your students you have the best job in the world. Watch a cheesy, teacher glorifying movie. Take 10 minutes of class to have students write a thank you note to one of their teachers.
- Really, really try hard to keep nights and weekends work free: This is tricky but it’s possible. One approach is to dedicate an entire Saturday or Sunday to catching up on grading and planning. Then follow a weekly schedule to keep ahead of yourself. Some of the darkest moments of my life have been October mornings battling the copy machine and the clock. For more advice about keeping a reasonable work-life balance click here.
How do you combat Suctober blues?