It’s that kind of Christmas around here. That without a doubt is our Charlie Brown-iest tree ever. (yeah, you know the one).
We’re not anti-Christmas by any stretch, it’s just that this year the decorating has been… minimal. And it’s OK. The family seems to be kind of in the mood for a low-key Christmas. Me, I’ve been taking comfort in some little things. My parish has been hosting candlelight vespers on Thursdays during Advent. The peace of the low light and the Real Presence and the incense and the Latin hymns has been a source of joy for me.
We wrapped up final exams yesterday, so today is a half-day Teacher Work Day. It broke with a half-hearted attempt at a White Christmas:
Then on the way in I caught my favorite “melancholy Christmas” tune on WXRT. It set the tone for the day. In a good way.
One of my colleagues stopped off at the bakery on the way in and picked up a huge box of donuts for the department. He’s on Santa’s “Nice List” for sure.
Then it was finishing grading some final projects for my freshmen Algebra Lab class. And a minute to be thankful for my kids and their talents that they share with me every day.
Entered exam scores and final grades, double checked to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Nope, all good. A lot like Ralphie Parker on Christmas, many of my kids got exactly what they wanted, grade-wise. Others, no, but close. “Maybe next year”, as The Old Man would say. So with grades in the books and some time left, I tried to get a bunch of stuff done for after break before I left for break. Made my list, prioritized my tasks, went right down the line, checked them off. I was on a time schedule (wrestling practice, car repair appointment), and when the clock struck, it was time to go.
Two biggest savers of sanity and time on that list, BTW:
- I worked a couple of days ahead for the first few days after break. Canvas is updated with new due dates, Desmos activities are set up with class codes and links in Canvas, printed materials are hot off the presses and sorted, ready to go on 1/7/18. And I left a “quick-start-up” note for my desk for my future self, just in case I forget anything in the rush to start a new semester.
- I printed two copies of my quarter grades and stuck them in a file in my desk. Come the end of the school year when I need a hard copy of my gradebook to turn in, it’s already done and waiting there for me.
Sometimes “self-care” takes the form of good planning.
I actually was nowhere near done with my list when it was time to leave. In fact I was half tempted to go back in today after my appointments and keep working, but Kim Strobel is kind of in my head. I’ve seen her speak before, and my district brought her in to present on “The Science Of Happiness” to all our staff and faculty yesterday after finals. It was a bit of a gamble, I thought. The Type-A teachers I know want to get busy grading and closing out the semester on the last day with students, not sitting in an auditorium for two hours of rah-rah.
But to be honest, it was a home run. Time (and money) well spent. She had our teachers, especially the elementary teachers, eating out of her hand. Her message is pretty simple. And timely:
It seems I’ve applied the Minimum Effective Dosage. OK then. Yeah, I’ll buy in. Maybe there’s a ton more to do. There always will be. So: Go home. Be a dad. Take pleasure in the simple moments. Do the things for (and with) your people. Enjoy break. Rest up. Celebrate Christmas.