Take the Day Off for Teachbad’s Anniversary!!

Before we get into today’s post about days off work, I’d like to point out that today, December 9, 2012, is the three-year anniversary of Mr. Teachbad’s Blog of Teacher Disgruntlement: Where Teachers Laugh and Complain; shortened now mostly to the more compact and efficient Teachbad.

And now back to our regularly scheduled post:

Two years ago I couldn’t have imagined a world where I would have a job and not have 15 days off for Christmas. How could a 15-day break ever be properly squeezed into a four-day weekend and New Year’s Day? And what kind of life could you really have without spring break? What would be the point?

After six years of teaching, I could no longer imagine functioning professionally if I had to go to work on Columbus Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, DC Emancipation Day or Memorial Day. Having all of these be guaranteed paid time off is outstanding and patriotic. And sometimes you don’t have to go to work if it snows or gets super windy, for safety.

The District Employee’s Handbook says (I’m paraphrasing):

If a holiday falls on a Monday, we’ll usually knock off around 12:30 the Friday before. The day after Thanksgiving is off, of course. Christmas and New Years are pretty close together, so…fuck it. Let’s do two weeks for that and then just one week for Spring Break. However, and we’re sorry about this, but we’re only going to be able to give you 7 weeks in the summer from now on. The good news is that there will now be 13 full days of professional development and parent conferences instead of just 11. Those aren’t a great time, but you can just sit there with your thumb up your ass all day long if you want. You know what I mean. Your body has to be here, but your mind is on a day pass and we’re cool with that.

I knew deep down that most jobs didn’t work this way. And I dreaded ever having one of them again. Teachers spend a surprisingly large amount of this time working, but the time off offers a huge amount of flexibility. And if you want to plan a three day weekend, there is always one coming right up. You will never feel like you have to be at work on any of these days. The building is closed. You couldn’t even get in if you wanted to. Most people actually have to be at work during almost all of this time. And, to me, that sounded like a drag.

But to my genuine astonishment, it’s really not that bad.

It’s not that I was wrong about having a lot of days off. I won’t tell you that having a ton of paid time off isn’t awesome, because it obviously is. The problem with teacher time off is that I really began to need it, like in a medical way. Those days made it possible for me to teach in the first place. Doing that job year round and not having DC Emancipation Day off would have been a deal breaker. They became essential for my mental health, such as it was.

Teaching is an irrational cluster-fuck of a job and it was driving me insane. It’s way too much spinning your wheels and feigning compliance for unclear purposes while everybody works very hard to pretend and hope that’s not the case.

After I realized that the time off from teaching was by far and away the best thing about it, I knew I had a problem. That’s not what I’m looking for in a career.

With my new job, I don’t wake up every morning and want to punch myself in the face. I don’t mind working late or on a Saturday. If I’m working, as I was through Frankenstorm, Veteran’s Day and will be during most of the winter break, I always have something I’m working on because it actually needs to get done. People need things to happen and if they don’t happen, other people won’t be able to do the stuff they want to do and everybody is sad and nobody makes any money.

I work with a team of people on getting things done. We all know what the things are that need to get done and we divide the labor. We can all clearly see which things have been done and if they have been done correctly. If the team needs to speak about our objectives and goals, we arrange a time to gather together in what is sometimes called a meeting. In these meetings, my team members and I discuss the issue for which the meeting was called. Meeting attendees may spontaneously propose other topics for discussion as well. When we have finished, the meeting is closed and we return to our individual work, reconvening meetings as necessary.

And my needing to miss fourth period for a teeth cleaning doesn’t trigger the awakening of a giant bureaucracy.

It’s good. Don’t be afraid to try it.

Mr. Teachbad



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