Teaching is hard work, no matter your experience. There is always work to be done. You could spend the next 72 hours working and still find more to do, that's the truth. Therefore it is important to carve out sacred time for yourself. I call mine Saturday. This Saturday, however, I gave it up for a worthy cause. Our debate team needed judges. My friend is the debate coach. It was a simple equation. It is important to give back to those who give to you, those who fill you up as a friend and colleague. Hence my Saturday spent at school.
If you have never spent a day contributing to the world by judging competitors in a high school debate tournament, you are missing something. The perks, food and beverage galore, would be enough for some to give up their Saturday, but truly the best part of my day was garnering in inspiration from the students themselves. If you are ever worried about the youth of tomorrow, spend a half a day in Congress where students work to pass legislation that they have crafted and present arguments for and against each law. It was the swiftest two and half hours of my teaching life. The twenty students debated about mandatory Ebola screenings for travelers and providing free internet for all Americans. There were many other laws that they considered passing. Congress is a level playing field for all levels of debaters, novices and varsity members. The students managed themselves. I just listened and evaluated.. I was in awe.
I suggest that if you are a secondary English language arts educator, you donate some time judging. You don't need much experience just time. You also will be able to study teens and learn about them as critical listeners, readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers. Powerful stuff! They were powerful. Students are most always the fount of our teaching inspiration and I was glad to give up my Saturday to be reminded of that truth.