During my teaching year, I typically fall into Sunday blues, often long before Sunday. Come Thursday, my last day of teaching for the week, I survey what my friends and I have come to call “The Giant Stack of Grading,” and plot out my grading for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I review my syllabi for the upcoming week, and figure out pages to read, assignments and/or rubrics to create, and lessons to prepare for.
Now’s probably the time to admit that I plan most of my classes in the day or days before a class session. I outline the broader topic when I complete my syllabi, but the magical tidbits (videos, photos, handouts, discussion questions) happen just-in-time.
In the past, I would then chart out my chores: doing laundry, changing the bed sheets, and grocery shopping as the the primary tasks I relegated to the weekend.
Then, Gregg and I would review our social plans, whether a low-key writing session at a coffee shop, or a party with friends.
There was never enough time, and I would feel anxious already on Thursday before I even started working, choring, and playing.
There’s still not enough time, but I’ve made some minor tweaks that are helping me avoid the worst of the blues and to enjoy some time off.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve shifted the chores to non-weekend days. I thank my sister-in-law K for this idea. I now do laundry on Wednesdays, change the bed sheets on Fridays, and Gregg and I grocery shop throughout the week. While we visit the farmers’ market every Saturday morning during the season and occasionally run to the store on the weekend, I don’t feel pressured to shop for the whole week.
I try to grade as much as possible of Fridays, unless I have a meeting or another engagement. I accept the fact that I will very rarely have all the grading done, but know that I will make progress as I can. For sets of major papers, I chart a schedule for myself and try my best to meet it. When I don’t, I take solace in this idea: “So the work is to recognize on Friday (and on Saturday and Sunday) that what we are hoping to achieve this weekend is most likely not what we are actually going to get done. It’s a game plan, an outline, but not a definitive fact” (Barth). As Diane Barth notes, we create an image of how our weekend will evolve, but chances are that it will evolve differently than we plan.
And that’s okay.
What’s most important on Saturday and Sunday? Time to laugh with my husband. Cooking and baking. Reading at least one whole section of the Sunday New York Times. Waking up to the Sunday Puzzle on WPR. Walking along Lake Michigan. Talking, visiting, or otherwise communicating with family and friends. Feeding my soul, tending my relationships, and restoring myself so I’m a better teacher during the week to come.
*check out Diane Barth’s article, “What Makes Sunday Nights So Hard?” at PsychologyToday.com.