Every year I write about the perils of DEVOLSON, the Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October and November, my least favorite season of teaching. (I love the actual teaching part, but the stress, fatigue and general madness make me want to stick cafeteria sporks in my eyeballs.)
And every year, when I write about my least favorite season of teaching, I get at least a few comments or emails that I have it all wrong.
“I don’t mind the fall at ALL,” one reader emailed me. “It’s the first few months of winter that almost do me in. Am I alone? HELP!!!”
“The lack of sunshine turns me into an ogre,” another teacher commented on my Facebook page recently. “What’s the acronym for between winter and spring break?!”
Don’t worry, teachers: I’ve got one.
EDOFMA stands for the Eternal Darkness of February, March and April. Many teachers who are unaffected or minimally affected by DEVOLSON often report high stress, exhaustion and general insanity during EDOFMA instead. For the first few weeks back from the holidays in January, things seem OK, but then reality sets in.
Symptoms of EDOFMA include:
- Looking out the window at snow and crying.
- Shouting at one’s computer every time a new red exclamation point email pops up, especially emails related to standardized testing.
- Excessive feelings of hopelessness (e.g., responding to questions about recess with, “Play is futile.”).
- Developing a near-violent caffeine addiction.
- Beginning to hate snow days because all they mean are days added to the academic calendar in June.
- Spending 97 percent of free time researching teaching opportunities on Caribbean islands.
Now, I’ll go ahead and say that I’m almost completely unaffected by EDOFMA. I miss my students over Christmas break and love coming back to them. And although I loathe standardized testing, I’m always amazed at how quickly it flies by. And because I think in a former life I was actually a Scottish Highland cow, I adore wintry weather and don’t miss sunshine at all.
However, I do recognize that EDOFMA is very real for many teachers, as real as DEVOLSON is for me. Because of this, I’d like to offer some tips on coping with this period of anguish.
Trust me, I know that the last thing you feel like doing is moving around, but working out is this weird black magic that actually gives you more energy. If you’re not into the typical treadmill/elliptical indoor stuff, consider joining a fun class like barre or spinning. You can also start a FitBit competition with a small group of coworkers. Person with the least amount of steps at the end of each week of EDOFMA owes everyone else Monday morning coffee!
Take up a fun new hobby.
Learning something new will trick your brain into thinking that everything is awesome. Take a pottery class! Develop your calligraphy skills! Order an adult coloring book and go wild! Read all the Pulitzer winners and nominees from the past three years! Practice meditation! Learn how to make your own pasta! And then feed it to me!
Lean into the discomfort.
This, to me, is the most significant way of coping with EDOFMA and/or DEVOLSON. When you give the season a name and get your coworkers in the know, you’ve suddenly created a community that will walk with you through the craziness. Now, leaning into discomfort is not the same thing as ranting every day or being perpetually negative. When you lean in to something hard, you say, “MAN, this is tough, but we’re in this together! Let’s laugh about how I locked myself out of my car three times this month and then make a countdown calendar to spring break.”
Do you suffer from EDOFMA? What do you do to cope?