Winter Devolson: Dark, Evil, Vortex Of Life, Students On No-sun
by Katie Kinder
“This is an acronym for a phrase coined by a teacher as a way to describe the busiest and often most difficult time of year to be a teacher. It stands for the dark, evil vortex of late September, October, and November. (Obviously, it’s not always dark or evil, but the acronym isn’t as fun without dramatic adjectives.).”
I struggle in the winter. I do not like the cold. It makes me want to burrow under a mound of blankets sit on my couch, surrounded by heating pads, corn bags, and hot hands. Heaven forbid anyone in my family even think about trying to get one of my corn bags for themselves. I will hiss at them like a feral cat. I have self-diagnosed myself via Dr. Google as someone who struggles with the seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The acronym is appropriately named.
January and February are long months with no breaks. The kids are restless. The teachers are restless. We pray, hope, and dream of a snow day to be bestowed upon us. The only reason I can write this right now is that the world showed us favor in Oklahoma, and Old Man Winter dumped six inches of snow on us, giving us a reprieve from arriving at school before the sun comes up and arriving home after it has set.
I have to put on a happy face for my students because I know they deserve the best version of me, but it is mostly that…fake. I do find joy. I do find laughter. I know my purpose as an educator, but sometimes I retreat into my feelings when I get home. My skin is dry and cracks easily. My face has not seen the sun in ages. I dream of lakes, beaches, pools, and warm weather when I will be able to bike, swim, and frolic once again.
So, thanks for the description, Katie, but how do I get through it?
Talk about it. Normalize admitting the sadness is real, knowing soon you will be through it and that you are deeply loved. Hold onto your purpose as a teacher. The faces that show up every day needing you are worth your best effort. You may be a child’s best hope even on your worst day. You may be the only adult who loves that child. School may be the only place some children eat, are cared for, or are loved. Teachers pray for a snow day, and some of our students dread a snow day to their very core. They have to be in charge of food, diapers, and naps because the only place they get to be kids is at school.
Two days ago at my school, the kids were hyped about the possibility of a snow day or two. I told them they had to perform a silly ritual to get a snow day.
Snow Day Ritual:
- Put your pajamas on backward.
- Throw ice cubes in the toilet.
- Yell “SNOW DAY” into the toilet.
And that is the only scientific way to get a coveted snow day. They laughed, and some promised to perform the ritual.
“I don’t want a snow day,” one of my students chimed in. She immediately regretted her out loud musings. Her classmates were aghast. She rescinded her remark, but I held her after class.
“Why don’t you want a snow day?”
“It is cold in my apartment; my mom still has to work at the hotel, and I’m in charge of feeding my three young siblings. I just don’t like it. I never get to sleep in!”
My heart shattered. I gave her a hug and told her we would be back together again soon. She smiled and said, “I will not be performing your snow ritual!”
As I sit on my couch, under my mounds of blankets, with my corn bags, heating pads, and a hot cup of coffee, I’m worried about her. That is one of the hardest parts of teaching. We carry our own burdens, but we carry the heavy loads of our students too. We might have a small break from the physical stress of the job, but even on an official snow day, our hearts do not ever get a break. Once we teach kids, they are our kids forever. It can be a burden, but the blessing of this calling is 100 fold!
And that, my friends, is how we get through the Winter Devolson. We show up for kids every day.
Teach On, Warriors! We are rooting for you!
Katie, Relate Then Educate
Author & Speaker
Katie Kinder has been an educator since 2006. She believes that life is fun, and learning should most definitely be fun. A teacher of the year, top five district finalist, OKC Rotary Teacher of the Month, professional development leader, and a top 100 educator in Oklahoma on Twitter, Katie has learned a trick or two in the classroom.
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