THERE’S A MEME going around Facebook that shows a group of those stubby Playskool figures lying face down on the floor. A desk and several chairs indicate this is a classroom. The caption reads: “Teachers after the first week of school be like .…”


In fact, as Friday neared during that first week of school, I couldn’t get the meme out of my head. I just kept picturing my colleagues and I lying face down on the floor in exhaustion. By that time I had actually worked two weeks, with a three-day road trip to Vermont in between. Summer vacation, I hardly remember you anymore.

I don’t for a minute forget how grateful I am for (in my case, as a school librarian) eight weeks off each summer. Educators are the only workers in the U.S. who get the amount of vacation time that most Europeans believe is a God-given right. But re-entry is always a challenge. Each September, I reflect on how most human beings are creatures of habit. It takes some doing to go from one habit to another.

The 5 a.m. wake-up call takes a while to adjust to. I don’t sleep that late in the summer, usually arising between 6 and 6:30 a.m., but I do love those rare days when I can snooze until 7. As an adult, I know I should be preparing myself to get up earlier every morning in the weeks before school resumes, but do I? Absolutely not. I am my own worst enemy.

It doesn’t help that my husband, Paul, and I have several backyard chickens. They get up with the sun, and by late August that is a full 45 minutes later than it was in late June. They get to sleep later and later while I rise in the dark. Growl.


It takes me a couple of weeks to get back into the habit of being somewhere on time. Within days of beginning summer vacation, I lose track of what day it is. It doesn’t really matter. Do I want to go on a day trip to a museum? I don’t have to wait for Saturday. Any day will do.

Of course, I had appointments to go to during the summer and meetings to attend, but I also had time in the morning to sit around and watch the news with Paul. I could stay in my yoga pants until 9, and even that cutoff was arbitrary. I could have that second cup of coffee.

I am not without coffee at school, but it did take several days back at work to remember that I had to regularly check my engagement calendar again. No more coasting.

Re-entry means remembering some things that I only do once a year — at the beginning of the school year. I do have a list, but I am finding that I need to annotate it. That is, I need to remind myself how to do these once-a-year chores, as well as which ones to do.

But first, I must remember my passwords. This can be a daunting task. I have three different logins and passwords for the various software programs and e-mail that I use. This is in addition to the user name and password for my home computer, iPhone and iPad. As I am the district librarian for the Augusta school system, I need to know logins and passwords for all of the various libraries. That includes the computers and software the librarians use, as well as those for the Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs) that our students and teachers use to find books.

I have a little book myself — one that lists all of my passwords. There is not enough room in my cluttered brain to remember them all.


On the personal front, re-entry means interacting with large groups of people. I’m an introvert, so if I have a lot of “outer” time — dealing with others — I also need a commensurate amount of “inner” time by myself. Needless to say, as my outer time grows, my inner time diminishes. Oh, well, this is why I have meditated for many years.

Despite the challenges of the first week back at school, the great majority of teachers look forward to starting a new year. We have the unique opportunity to return each September, or late August, renewed and refreshed. The slate is clean. We begin again.

And on the weekend, we sleep.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at

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