This is how the last twelve years of teaching have gone:
We would come back from winter break in January, and I landed on my two feet, slightly refreshed from the slam dunk that is the end of the second quarter. I look at the horizon and know that the third quarter is never going to be easy.
The third quarter is when the yearbook demands the most time. Along with the yearbook, there's also lesson planning, grading, other publications I put together, video announcements once a week, as well as being a part of committees, tech coordinator, and all the things that aren't school related, like family, a house, school.
Then, just as the yearbook got wrapped up, and everything started to slow down, the third quarter ended, and I feel like I could take a breath.
But, nope, the fourth quarter began, and I lost time all over again.
Because track had started.
For the past 12 years, I went from one busy quarter of staying after and working on the yearbook, frazzled and figuring out how I'll get everything done, to the fourth quarter, where I was just as busy. January to May was a nonstop marathon.
Some days you could find me under my desk, hiding from responsibility.
"Too much," I shivered. "I. Just. Can't. Adult. Anymore."
Granted, it was never as busy when my sister-in-law was in softball during high school. I went from school, to practice (or a meet) and then to a softball game. Those were the nights I didn't get home until 9 p.m. a couple of times a week.
This year, the fourth quarter started, and the yearbook was finished, and I had nowhere else to be. For the first time ever, I was able to start my fourth quarter as simply as the first quarter. No yearbook. No track.
The eighth graders were not happy with me this year.
"You're not coaching this year?" they lamented. "Why couldn't you have quit after we left?"
And, what, get the same drama from next year's eighth grade class? And the year after that?
I was slightly surprised that kids were upset that I wasn't coaching anymore. I figured they caught on that coaching wasn't really my thing. I ran drills. I helped keep the chaos down. I perfected my coaching in high jump, where I worked with 10 kids max, but I was never a coach's coach.
You're hurt? Go talk to the trainer. I'm not going to make up something and have you get injured more. You need a special stretch? Go see Coach Kenney, he runs long distance for real. I know nothing about stretching. I'm just here to look pretty.
"My shins are hurting…" a sixth grader would say, coming up to me, limping like they were coming out of battle.
"I don't know what to tell you. I'm not a real coach, I just play one on TV."
"How should I stretch my calves?"
"Find a unicorn, lean up against it, and push."
That's how I saw myself, but maybe it wasn't how the kids saw me.
Or they did, and they were just sad I wasn't going to be there. I may not have been a coach's coach, but I was a total nut.
Maybe they just liked hanging out with me.
I feel like Sally Field.
"You like me! You really, really like me!"
I won't miss the time track took, but I will miss hanging out with the coaches and the students. It was one of the times where I was an adult, making sure things were getting done, but I wasn't in charge. I was an assistant coach. It's not like my classroom where I have to have a plan and be more strict.
I could have fun.
Not that teaching can't be fun, but there was a freedom being an assistant coach -- being one of six other assistant coaches. It's nice not having the answers.
But as the weather begins to warm, I'm going to be perfectly fine with leaving school at a decent time so I can go home, sit on the patio, and just enjoy the evening, even if I need to work on something from school.
Let's hope I take advantage of this extra time.