When the Bells Stop Ringing, The Summer Struggle Begins

3 min


It’s the first week of summer and I’m so out of sorts. Another year in the books, another group slightly more educated than when we met in August and sent off to the next grade level. From now on, the students from this year will simply be referred to as “the loud group”. Each group we teach earns its own name on its own merit, etching their memory into our minds.

With the chaos of the last few weeks finally over, it’s time for the fun of summer, which also brings the beginning of what we call: “the summer struggle”.

GIF - Michael Cera lying on recliner chair "but it's haaaard."

What is this summer struggle, you ask? Let me tell you…

It’s the first week of summer when we teachers learn to function like normal human beings again. It’s harder than one would think, easing into a break from the hustle and bustle of a teacher’s life.

For starters, there is no more bell schedule to dictate our day, to tell us what to do, and where to go. We no longer operate in increments of five minutes at a time and we’re suddenly aware of how many hours are actually in a single day. Our bladders have been on a strict schedule and aren’t quite sure what to do now. The ability to use the restroom as we please, without fear of our students setting fire to the building, is overwhelming.

GIF - leslie knope in pain holding in pee

Then there are our stomachs, which like our bladders, are also on a schedule. By 11:00 am we’re ready for a lunch because lunch has always been at 11:00 am for the past 10 months. Even though that one student still had the nerve to ask, “What time is lunch?” with 3 days left of school, and we just about lost it. Each day, we get up eager to tackle a to-do list that we’ve been creating for months. We hopelessly wait for summer, only to be famished by 11:30 in the morning, when we will stand aimlessly looking into the refrigerator. We are programmed to have lunch pre-made.

GIF - actress sticking head in freezer

We just can’t function properly the first week of summer.

On the off-chance we give in to our grumbling stomach, we must actually make our lunch while hungry. This whole making a lunch in the middle of the day thing is for the birds and a skill, we as teachers, do not possess. We are over the whole packed lunch routine and spent the last week of school winging it through lunch with whatever items were left in our pantry. Summer comes along and we forget we’ll need to make a lunch. And this is hard. Finally, we remember what a proper lunch looks like and get to it, only to quickly eat it in 10 minutes as if we haven’t consumed food in days. Then it occurs to us the next bell isn’t ringing and we could’ve taken our sweet time to savor our lunch, while not having to remind our students the bottle flipping game is “so last August”. We could even get caught up on our DVR shows while we eat because we no longer need to supervise boys who tend to turn lunch into a science lab, creating their own concoctions of Michelle Obama-approved lunch food.

Some days we even remember that we can go out to lunch with a friend. Or my personal favorite, brunch. Food from the outside world is gold in the teacher world, and we take full advantage of any two meal options for the remainder of the summer.

GIF - SNL skit with Amy poehler and Kristen Wiig at restaurant stuffing bread in mouth

Just as our stomach and bladder live and die by a bell schedule, our brains still think the alarm is going off at 5:45 in the morning — a swell time to wake up! Stupid bells.

Then, there’s this whole, “we’re still adults with responsibilities thing.” We just spent 10 months being the only responsible adult in the room and we are so over it. We don’t know if we want to blow off all responsibility and just go travel, float in the pool, or actually accomplish a few tasks with our summer. We want to make up for all the Friday nights we crawled into bed at 8:30 because we were so drained from the week. I’m pretty sure we’re not overcompensating at all, by lounging at the pool a little too long.

GIF walter white breaking bad floating in pool on pool float

So here we sit, on the first week of summer, figuring out how to function again. No bells to tell us when to do things and no desk calendar to reference for the week’s task. We’re just tired teachers trying to remember how to function properly in society. Slowly we will learn and maybe use the time to be productive with all the things we don’t get to do during the school year. But for now, I’ll just sit in the pool with my beverage, and wait for the bell to tell me when to get out.

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author photo_Sarah MayThis article was written by Sarah May – a Georgia girl who spends her days with socially awkward middle schoolers and blogs about it by night. Check out her blog.


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