I am excitedly awaiting a year long leave of absence for the 2014-2015 school year. It’s been awhile in the making. The idea has always been in my mind, even since before I became a teacher. Years ago, my Mother had teacher friends who had done what I only knew as something called, ” 4 over 5″. The concept intrigued me. I wanted to do that. (I was in grade school at the time)
Years pass, I become a teacher. I still like this idea, however, I have bills to pay, loans to pay, houses to buy, experience to gain. Then, I have a baby and the idea is reborn. I was on maternity leave and in the “bubble”. Life with a newborn is a world of experiences I just couldn’t have imagined. Going back to work was very tough. I started planning my leave of absence while on maternity leave.
A number of things coincided to make my timing well suited for me. I had time to think if I could really afford this and really want this. I had a few more courses to complete to make it to the top of the grid. I also had a few more years to clock as well. While I plodded along, I made sure I was saving, just in case. Finally, things fell into place! I finished all my courses! I had experience! I had saved! My full time day care costs would drastically fall as my daughter started school full time.
Instead of doing “4 over 5” I am doing “3 over 4” and it’s awesome. I am teaching my third of three years and feel giddy my time has almost arrived. Mini life dream heading my way.
As I (somewhat purposefully) rub this in to my colleagues faces, I always get asked, “What are you going to do with your time off?” Always. I suppose it’s the general question. It’s good small talk. People might actually be curious, what does one do when not working and not retired?
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not doing anything. Sorta. And I’m doing everything I want. Opposite, but not. I’ll tell you what I’m not doing: I’m not worrying about times, schedules, bells, due dates, report cards, duty and meetings. I also don’t really see changing policy, the world, crises aplenty, Nobel prizes, revolutionary inventions happening.
My year off is exactly that. MY year OFF. This may seem selfish, but who says you have to “do” things to please others? I’m doing what pleases me. Here are some things I will be doing: being able to walk my daughter to school, volunteer at her school, read more for enjoyment, take a nap once in awhile, learn to cook homemade meals, shop alone, travel off season, learn a new hobby, go for walks, basically, anything that suits my fancy at that moment.
I’m not completely abandoning my professional career. But I am taking a break from it. This is actually a great way for me to disconnect and will allow me to come back a little more revitalized. Maybe my “life experiences” will bring more ideas to the class upon my return. I am an advocate of the “school of life” and this year off will undoubtedly be a learning experience. And I hope this experience happens for at least one week at an amusement park or beach. Or both.