I drift through cycles of where I am either a night owl or an early bird. Even when I am in night owl mode, my favorite time of the day are those early morning hours where the world is still asleep, but there’s a vibrant electricity in the air that’s fueled by the hope of whatever the new day is going to bring.
This week, I’m on early bird status. Probably because I have so much to do. I teach my full course load of 8th grade language arts during the day and then at night, I’m lecturing college freshman. Interspersed within this is me trying to keep my sanity while getting into my own professors the last few weeks of coursework for heavily law-laden classes for my PhD.
My breath of sanity on these kinds of days are the early mornings. I get to school about an hour before the kids come in and I set up my room for the day. Today went pretty quickly, they’re using this block to write their essays on their Holocaust topic. It’s the longest unit I do with them in 8th grade and the hardest. I stood at the gates of the Dachau camp in Munich only 3 years ago, but I will never forgot the silence that encompassed the grounds and the eerily feeling that creeped up your spine when you entered the gates and the temperature dropped by several degrees. That same year, I visited Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. I was balling my eyes out by the end. What I find so hard about teaching this is how for so many students they are just largely so not emphatic towards what occurred.
It’s a tough unit, one that is nearly 2 months long and is so emotionally draining. I’m glad to see it ending for this year. By being an easier day, it also gave me time to sit in the quiet of my room before the kids came, before my co-teacher got here, before noise invaded and for a good hour, I just got to get myself together for the day. Sometimes, you just have to do that for yourself.
I do the same thing at the end of the day, when I’m driving home. There are days like today where I will drive the hour home in silence, not ever touching the radio. It’s like my little break from the chaos of the day.