October Blues? Teachers, What's That?

Is there really a such thing as October Blues for teachers? When I first graduated from college and went straight into teaching at a middle school, I found it especially challenging. My mentor, Karen, reminded me to ‘hang in there,’ and to ‘NOT become a statistic’ by quitting teaching. I taught for a total of two years before I left the profession. I became a statistic.

In hindsight, what I noticed was that in October, I had run out of steam. I’d start off the year strong and organized, but for some reason, I was a mess by October and continued to be a mess until Christmas break. According to Edweek.org, 44% of new teachers leave the teaching profession within five years. I think the reason that new teachers leave the profession within five years is because no matter how strong they start the year off, there’s that late-September/October slump that nobody talks about. I used to think that there was something wrong with me! Not one professor mentioned this issue in college, nor did my mentor teacher mention it. I had to figure it out on my own.

Once I got married and started my family, I went back to the teaching profession, and it happened again! This is when I started paying more attention to it. It definitely happened in October for me. My classroom management had slipped, my energy was low, my students were overall more rowdy. Ironically, it was like the less energy I had, the more energy my classes displayed. It was a mismatch. I had problems keeping up with meetings, emails, deadlines, lesson plans, and so on. But I eventually figured it out.

Here’s how Iget around the October Blues. I over prepare. It cost me a lot of time working later than most, but it’s worth it. Here’s how it works. I make sure that each day is like the first day of school. My lessons are always fresh and innovative, I’m ogranized on a daily basis (even if I have to stay at school until 7pm), papers are graded and handed back right away, I find the best educational-supporting videos and find the most interesting stories for my students to read. We discuss and debate on a regular. Students look forward to coming to my class. As far as discipline goes in my classroom, well, I communicate with parents on a regular for the good and the bad. I NEVER make an empty promise to my students. If I say I’m going to call a parent or that you’re going to have detention, then it happens!

Unfortunately, in order to follow through with these things, I have to stay at work late searching for the best materials, the best lessons and activities. And yes, I’m very tired, but I’m happy when I go to work the next day, and I’m a leader in my classroom. Sometimes I even work on Saturdays. It’s just the price I’m willing to have to have a peace of mind. What you need to know is that if ever I feel like I need to take off a day because of overwork, I do. And it’s usually on a Friday or Monday, or both. Working as much as I do makes taking off inevitable.

So is there a such thing as the October Blues? Absolutely! Have I ever had it? Yes! Do I get it often? Nope. And yes, I get looked at funny because of the late hours that I choose to keep on a regular basis, but the way I look at it is if it makes me a happy teacher the next day, then that’s all that matters.

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