Here in Boston, it's looking as though tomorrow is going to be a scorcher. Right now, many of us teachers are facing the next couple of weeks with some apprehension as we inch towards the last day of the year. A building full of middle schoolers, 90 degree heat, and no air conditioning is a very frightening combination. We are facing the days when we need to shower both before AND after work (the latter being a freezing cold one) even though we probably didn't have time to work out. We are facing the days where we are reminded of the fact that the windows in our classroom only open half an inch. We are facing the days where we don't blow dry our hair because we know it's immediately going up into some sort of makeshift updo as soon as we enter our sticky buildings. How do we survive these weeks? Well, we need to make it somehow, and there are a few key items that have helped me make it in the past.
Here it is...The June Survival Kit!
1. Hydration Station: It's important to stay hydrated once the school becomes Jamaica-like. Get yourself a very large, reusable water bottle. Use it all day long. In the morning, I like to make myself a giant iced coffee that fills this whole sucker up. Here's a tip for you coffee lovers: ice melts VERY quickly on a warm morning in June. I like to brew my coffee the night before. Before putting it in the fridge, I fill up an ice cube tray with coffee, and stick it in the freezer. So not only do I have deliciously cold coffee in the morning, I also don't have that watered down effect. Once I'm fueled for the day, I like to alternate between water and the individual Crystal Light packets.
2. Scent Defense: I'll be first in line to say that I love my students, and that I think they are amazing human beings. However, being 13 and 14 years old, they don't always smell like roses. This particularly comes to light around noon time on a sweltering day in June. Air fresheners like the one pictured above are super cheap and can be strategically placed throughout the classroom. I like the "four corners" approach, and I also keep one on my desk.
4. Anti-Oil Agents: At school in June, it is almost impossible to keep from "glowing." No, not glowing because you know you'll be on the beach in a few short weeks. You know, that slick, oily feeling your face gets after about an hour on a humid day? There are lots of different brands of oil absorbing sheets that are a quick fix for this problem, and can help you feel less slimy as you make your way to 2:30. If you don't have any in your purse or in your desk, you're in luck! Those brown paper towels that don't seem to easily absorb any spill that occurs in your classroom are, ironically, excellent for absorbing oil!
5. Photos of your Summer Happy Place: For those increasing moments in June where you feel as though all children have completely tuned you out, and the 90 degree stagnant heat is slowly sucking the life out of you, turn your oscillating fan directly onto your face and pull out a picture of your favorite summer spot. Mine is Duxbury Beach. I let the cool(ish) breeze wash over my slightly slimy face, and picture myself driving over this bridge and into paradise. After a couple of yoga breaths, I'm able to return to being calm, cool, and collected.
Though education is our passion and our art, even the most dedicated of creators are faced with trying times and the need to recharge their batteries. To me, many of those trying times in a teacher's journey come in June, as our students (and we) become more anxious for some rest, relaxation, and recharging. Sometimes the best thing to do to feed our passion for education is to step away from it for a while, and to then be reminded of how much we love what we do.