Or Hallway. However you see it. We’ve reached the glorious point in the year where we can start referring to the end in sight in weeks instead of months. I’ve never run a marathon, but considering that I come home each day feeling like I have, I’m gonna go ahead and call myself a marathon runner. You can too… go ahead. Embrace it. Teachers are marathon runners. Say it out loud, you know you wanna…. I’m a marathoner. I’m gonna go ahead and be bold here and say that we may even be stronger than marathon runners. Why, you ask? Marathon runners don’t run for 8 hours a day Monday through Friday without ever peeing all the way from August to May. Who am I kidding – June.
DEVOLSON, the Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October and November, is an acronym coined by the very funny Love, Teach. If you aren’t familiar with this blog, then clear your schedule, get a glass of whatever (wine), and dive into the hilarity that is her writing. Trust me, after reading her explain about DEVOLSON and what to eat during testing season I knew I wasn’t the only crazy out there.
I have been teaching for almost ten years now, and although DEVOLSON is indeed the dark, evil, vortex with no end in sight that Love, Teach does so accurately describe. There is another time period in the life of a teaching year that rivals DEVOLSON with fierce pandemonium. A time period that is much lighter and airier than it’s evil sister DEVOLSON, but don’t let her pretty Spring-Time flowers fool you. May I introduce….
(The Dark, Evil, Maze of No-Good Standardized Tests, Escorted Routine Field Trips, and Yearly Parties.)
DEMONSTERFY usually shows up right after Spring Break but has been seen in some schools as early as Valentines Day, popping into Middle Schools around the country pumping hormonal preteen hearts full of jealousy over ginormous stuffed bears and balloon bouquets bigger than town water towers, and wreaking havoc on classroom management everywhere. Here are some facts about DEMONSTERFY and some tips on how to hang on until summer glorious summer.
FACT #1: DEMONSTERFY MAKES STUDENTS LAZY
She rares her evil head after Spring Break the minute the students come crawling back to their desks after a fun filled week of sand, sun, and sleeping till noon. That’s when the complaining and lazy-ing starts…
“Miss… why do we have to do thiiiiiiiiis.”
“Because reading is a fundamental life skill.”
“Miss… we aren’t ever gonna use thiiiiiis.”
“Do you like money? Then, yes. You will use this.”
“Miss… can I just go to the baaaaaathroooom.”
“Uhm… you literally just went to go get water. So no.”
How to beat it? Call your lazies out. Mix things up. Change seats, rearrange desks. Do whatever it takes to bring back the “first week of school feel.”
FACT #2: DEMONSTERFY MAKES YOU FAT
Forcing teachers across the country to abandon reasonable food choices and gorge themselves on random desserts, donuts, or food items left on lounge or office tables no matter the length of time or reason why they are sitting there is one of the trickiest things about DEMONSTERFY. It may not be the LONGEST period of time during the school year without a break, but is indeed the craziest. This time of year is full of formal observations, special education meetings, extra paperwork for accommodations or tutoring or parent conferences, and field trip planning. So DEMONSTERFY shows up with all kinds of goodies in her basket. Things like leftover donuts that someone brought, the random brownies or treats in your box, or the mack-daddy…. the teacher luncheon. Then she reminds you that you’ve got 3 extra meetings this week, grades are due tomorrow, you’re being observed in four days, and you missed the deadline. again. And it’s just Monday and she sits in the corner of your classroom and laughs maniacally because you forgot your lunch and even though you started your new diet on Saturday, there is a rumor that there are donuts in the lounge.
“There are donuts in the lounge!”
“I think those were there Friday.”
“No, I’m pretty sure someone’s mom brought them today.”
“Can donuts really go bad?”
How to beat it? Run away. Run hard and run fast. Just run away.
FACT #3: DEMONSTERFY MAKES YOU CRAZY
All staff meetings are run by DEMONSTERFY. They are usually in the middle of the week, after school, last an average of eternity, and consist of a PowerPoint presentation with 3,487 ridiculous things to do before your school goes full insane-asylum mode for whatever your state calls “The Test” and designed to drive you insane and make you think that there is no way on planet Earth that a human being could be capable of such feats.
“You will be locked in a room with 30 middle school students that you do not know.”
“Oh, okay. That should be interesting.”
“You may not speak or answer any of their questions.”
“Oh. So… like charrades! I like games.”
You will need to read this manual, take down anything in your room that resembles learning, and then put it all back up for your formal observation.”
“Oh. Wait… what?”
“And let me remind all of you that you may not sit down, you may not stay in one spot of the room for too long, but we must see you through the window. You may not have any electronic devices on campus, you may not look at the tests but you must make sure the students are on the right part of the test, the tests must never leave your sight. Good luck.”
“Oh sweet baby Jesus, help me.”
How to beat it? Create a contest pool. Whoever wins gets a prize. Which may or may not be a donut.
FACT #4: DEMONSTERFY MAKES YOU SICK
Unlike DEVOLSON, this evil little monster brings plenty of days off… Easter, Memorial Day, the occasional bad weather day. Breaks that seem dull in comparison to the never ending dangling carrot called summer. Breaks that also happen to get blasted into oblivion with her arsenal of weapons known as the common cold, or allergies… or sick children. She saves the mother of all weapons for important days off like Easter or Memorial Day…. the stomach virus. Which leads to the invariable question… is it more work to plan for a sub?
“How was your weekend?”
“I spent it cleaning up puke, thanks.”
“You look really tired today.”
“I’m not getting sick, I’m not getting sick. I can make it till summer.”
How to beat it? You could take one of two approaches here. 1. Go full scale nuclear war against germs. Hanitizing each surface, both living and not. 2. Embrace the germs in hopes that an eventual sickness will build stamina.
FACT #5: DEMONSTERFY MAKES STUDENTS CRAZY
She is released full throttle with a seemingly endless array of field trips, class parties, emotional meltdowns, and school functions like Spring dances and yearbook releases that stir up emotions in middle school students to the likes of Kim Kardashian loosing a favorite pair of shoes. It’s not pretty. The only antidote for DEMONSTERFY is summer.
“Missss. I don’t want to be her partner. Why can’t we go to Fiesta Texas like Bradley’s school.”
“Because our school values learning.”
“Misssss. I spilled my drink.”
“You mean your soda that you were not supposed to have.”
“Missss. Will you sign my yearbook.”
“Yes, if you can write a complete compound sentence with two prepositional phrases.”
How to beat it? Try to find one funny story each day. One pearl to take home and smile about in bed at night.
FACT #6: DEMONSTERFY MAKES YOU STRONGER
There is one delightful side affect of DEMONSTERFY. A silver lining if you will…. she magically leaves teachers with the ability to multi-task. I’m not talking your regular grading papers and watching 6 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy multi-tasking. I’m talking multi-tasking on steroids. The inhumane ability to grade essays, sort permission-slips, review test scores, redo your lesson plans for next week because you forgot about the field trip, find a funny youtube video to illustrate your lesson (without checking facebook), AND send parent emails about tutoring ALL WHILE making dinner for your family, folding clothes, and unloading the dishwasher. before 8:30.
“Dear Teachers, this is just a reminder that section II and III of your self-report are due at the end of the day on Friday.”
“When was section one due?”
How to beat it? Wait… we all want this one, right? But if you really feel like you can’t handle it… see this post here.
So even though there are long periods of time in our years that teaching can drive us loony… even though teaching can certainly be compared to running a marathon (among many things I’m sure)… there’s not really anything you can do to prepare for DEVOLSON or DEMONSTERFY.
Teaching is a marathon for which you can not prepare. You will have good training days and bad, and every day is race day. There are certainly moments of ultra joy and hard work through sweat and tears. Like in a marathon, you may feel alone but you are really not. Winning is not important. And even though mile four may not be as hard as mile 20, we will finish. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and summer will come. We will finish stronger, and crazier, and maybe a little pudgier. But we will finish. And we will get a much needed break, where at some point during the summer we will find ourselves saying something crazy like “I think I’ll go up to my classroom today.”
So to each of my students – those that I left in Rockport, and the new faces that I greet each day in Austin who feel like you would rather run a literal marathon instead of diagram another sentence… We are in this marathon together and we will finish strong. And even though I may roll my eyes at your forgotten homework and stare blankly as I process your question… I run for you.