Building back better: not just for economies*

I loved teaching online last year. And I’m psyched that I get to do it again this fall (my choice, after it proved tricky to find classroom spaces that will accommodate larger-than-expected class numbers).

And slash but … it’s also been hard. Especially when renewed lockdowns and new jobs meant an actual full house — two kids, two adults, one big dog — all competing for limited wifi bandwidth and even more limited work spaces.

(Okay, kidding about the dog; she has her own mobile plan and can work from anywhere.)

What I’ve found most interesting has been the recovery time. My last class was in mid-April. Exams were done and marked in the first week of May. And it’s just now — now, three weeks later — that I feel ready to get back into reading and writing and planning and all the other administrivia that goes along with my job.

I didn’t think that I needed a break. In fact, I’ve spent big chunks of pretty much every day for the last month beating myself up for not being more productive. A kinder friend to me than I am to myself might have seen the knitting and napping as some kind of self care — to me, it registered only as laziness.

And then I read this: Why Teens Need A Break This Summer. It’s been about four (dog) years since I was a teenager, so the advice hits a bit differently, but as someone who just went through a year of online school, there were big parts of it that did speak to me, especially this:


Don’t let guilt ruin restoration. Given how much the pandemic upended expectations for what adolescents were supposed to be achieving, teenagers themselves might feel uncomfortable about the idea of making recovery a priority this summer … Help your young people see past this way of thinking. The point of recovery is not to relax, but to grow. And if downtime is soaked in guilt, that growth is going to suffer.”

Lisa Damour, New York Times, June 1, 2021

It’s a good reminder — and if my experience is anything to go by, not just relevant for teenagers. Also important for younger kids (like my 9yo, who tried — unsuccessfully — to convince me that she “accidentally” opened up YouTube during class time). And for much much older kids (like me, who is tired out from half a dozen emails and is going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading — some of it even for fun).

Don’t feel guilty about needing a rest. We all do.

It’s the only way we’ll really build back better.

* economies, like Soylent Green, are made of people

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