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I Didn’t Do Any Work Over Break and I Have Absolutely Zero Teacher Guilt


I Didn't Do Any Work Over Break and I Have Absolutely Zero Teacher Guilt

I did nothing over winter break. Well, nothing productive anyway. I didn’t grade a single assignment. There was no slaving over lesson plans or answering emails. My time wasn’t spent folding laundry, organizing my closets, or cooking elaborate meals either. This was not a productive break. I caught up on Netflix, spent time with my loved ones, played games on my phone, and napped a whole bunch. And I don’t feel an ounce of teacher guilt.

Sure, I’m just as behind as I was on the last day of school before winter break. And I’m totally fine with that. The world is not going to end because I took time for myself.

Why I have zero teacher guilt for not working on winter break:

1. 2020 was brutal.

There’s a pandemic going on. Still. People are sick and even dying. Many have lost their jobs and don’t know how to feed and house their families. While I’m super thankful to be employed, living in a global crisis has made me realize there’s more to life than just work. 

And on top of the pandemic, 2020 brought us political stress, murder hornets, and all kinds of other random weirdness. So, yeah, I won’t feel teacher guilt for disconnecting for a minute.

2. My family deserves my time.

I can’t even tell you the last time my family sat down at the table for dinner together. We actually haven’t even been able to use the table for eating because it’s become a makeshift work area for when I have to teach from home or login to mandatory Zoom PD outside of school hours. My partner has been so patient and helpful. My kids rarely complain about me being too busy working to play with them. But they deserve to be the focus on my breaks. Yeah, our time together consisted of lazy mornings in bed and lots of movies on the couch, but I was present instead of sucked into my laptop with a little barrier of ungraded papers all around me. 

3. I’ve already given way more than should be expected this school year.

I’ve been teaching both in-person and online. Every day is spent trying to keep my students, my family, and myself safe and healthy. I’ve had to learn new teaching strategies, technology, and protocol overnight. I’ve spent a fortune of my own money on hand sanitizer and equipment for distance learning. I’m now tech support for dozens of students and their parents. I take on social worker and grief counselor duties daily. I’ve been working nearly every minute I’m awake for months.

A culture of teacher guilt urges us to do more and more. Teachers give way more than should be expected of us in a “normal” good year. We were depleted in 2020. Expecting us to work on winter break is disrespectful and ridiculous. 

4. My body needed to recover.

My body simply didn’t have the energy to work over break. It’s surprising more teachers aren’t sick with what our bodies have been put through this school year. If we’re teaching in person, we’re constantly exposed to kid germs. And even if we’re teaching remotely full-time, we’re so run down and sleep-deprived our health is suffering. I slept through most of the first five days of winter break. Even if I wanted to be productive over break, I didn’t have the energy.

5. It’s called winter “break” for a reason.

And that’s reason alone to feel zero teacher guilt about truly taking that time off. In the words of Ross from Friends,

“We were on a break.”

Ross Geller

Teacher friends, we’re doing the best we can. We need to be gentle with ourselves. If you need some support and encouragement, come join us in the Empowered Teachers community.

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I Didn't Do Any Work Over Break and I Have Absolutely Zero Teacher Guilt

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed., an editor at Bored Teachers, is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She's been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga. Connect with her at [email protected]
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