Globally, every teacher and student knows, all to well, the horror that awaits in the month of October. It hits usually around the end of the first quarter or 6-8 weeks into a school year. It is an actual phenomenon that has been studied by multiple psychologists. It is called the October Slump. Post homecoming is when it hits the schools in the States. In other countries it blankets the school after 8 weeks or so. I wish I could spare my students from its dreadful depths, but I myself fall victim each year. It’s when the stress of school, change in seasons, higher expectations, relationships, and realities begin to set in. It is not fun. It’s time to keep an eye on these precious students and teachers.
As an international teacher we also have a unique and special 8 week slump. A time when the “honeymoon” of a new country fades reality hits. This is also documented and researched by a number of international and exchange agencies. It is when many international teachers or exchanges feel “homesick” or may even find a way to return home. It is when the experience makes it… or breaks. It is when the teacher truly has the choice of how the rest of the school year will go. It’s very powerful.
I can officially say, this weekend I hit my October Slump. Like a brick to the toe, I was very aware of my reality. The pressure of end of term grades, student stresses, and the “alone” bit of international teaching all washed over me this weekend. All I wanted as a hug from my parents and mommas oatmeal cookies. I missed my friends from around the world, and just wanted to devour my “boyfriends” Ben and Jerry. Giggle.
So what can be done?! Well nothing really, it is what it is, and it is going to happen. The only thing that can be done is WITHIN. We have the power within us to decide what will happen next.
Decisions that determine the rest of the school year.
Students get to decide if they will just procrastinate until they are in a puddle of tears, or if they take a weekend and get caught up on work and rest. They have the complete power. I received two emails from a students worried about their grade. The first sharply stated “I don’t deserve a 0 for not doing my work, you need to fix it.” The other, apologized for not turning in their work, and very politely sent me a picture of her work stating “I take full responsibility for not turning my work in on time. If possible, I ask if you will please accept my work for partial credit.” Both students in a pickle, one taking control of her situation, the other falling into the sticky pit of the October Slump.
Teachers also have the power within to determine their path through this mire. A deep breath can go a long way. How we interact with our students is so important during this time. This ever so important time is key in developing relationships with students. A vital time. It becomes the moment they know they can trust and believe in you. That extra smile and second chance is what takes a slumped class and turns it to an invigorated class. Just because we are seasoned adults, does not leave us immune to this time of year. What we do have is wisdom to determine what happens next. We have this perfect teaching moment given to us, now we just need to squeeze it for its ultimate potential.
I choose to have my self pity party, but only for the weekend. I choose to empower myself and my students during this time. I choose to drag myself out of the October Slump and stand tall. I choose to clean of the muck of doubt. I choose to remember all the reasons I became an international teacher. I choose…to be the teacher my amazing students deserve.
I do have advise for a few people who know and love a teacher or a student. To all the parents, spouses, friends, and families: This brief time of the year will pass. Please….Support the one you love. Nutritious breakfasts and lunches as well as scheduled bed times go a long way. Support, love, hugs, and girls night game night are great ways to put a smile on a stressed face. To those who are supporters, thank you for your love and patience for these couple of weeks. It is because of your support that we remember how to smile again.
So as the season of slump falls upon us: Choose to stand tall. Choose to be positive. Choose to be the best version of yourself. Choose to give extra hugs to those around you.
Te desafío a elegir ser tu mejor versión. Las dificultades que experience pasarán, lo importante es que las personas que están a tu alrededor te apoyen, te devuelvan vida y devoción. Escogé vivir armoniosamente!