A Day In The Life of a Spondy Teacher
Last updated: August 2022
The start of a new school year is coming up quickly. Far more quickly than expected (wasn’t it just June?). And, that means getting back into a schedule. For many teachers (and students) that usually just means going to bed and waking up early. But, for a Spondy teacher like myself, a lot more goes into my daily schedule.
Sick back, grab a 42 oz coffee, and learn about a day in the life of a Spondy teacher.
My alarm goes off at 5 AM.
Students arrive at my school at 7:15, but even when they arrived at 8:15, I still woke up at 5:00. Why do I wake up so much earlier than I have to? To prepare for the unexpected.
I don’t know what kind of morning I am going to have. Am I going to be full of energy and ready to go? Or will my back and knees lock up and I'll need extra time to limber up?
Have you ever felt so stiff and exhausted that getting in the shower felt like a chore? Sometimes I need to sit and psyche myself up just to turn on the water.
I use a shower chair. If you have never considered one, I highly recommend it. Even if standing up isn’t that difficult, having the time to sit and save some spoons will be worth it. Plus washing my feet is so much easier.
Prep the night before. If you have the energy before bed, get as much done as you can to make your morning run smoothly. I lay out my clothes, program my coffee maker, and make my lunch. My night before success rate is far better than my morning of. If I don’t have coffee prepped and lunch made, there is a good chance I will end up skipping both. Clothes are required, I would find it very difficult to skip that.
After taking care of the dogs, and hopefully feeding myself complete with a Super Grover mug of coffee, I am ready to head to work
Go to work
Much like with my wake up schedule, I try to leave for work a little early. I would much rather show up 15 minutes early than get stuck in traffic and end up stressing myself into an early morning flare.
In the car I try to listen to something that makes me happy. My commute isn’t long, only 12 minutes, but driving in silence only opens my mind to negative thinking which might put me in funk. “Am I going to have to sub in a difficult class today?” “Will my students give me grief?” “Blah blah blah”
I prefer to listen to an audio book, a podcast like “Armchair Expert”, or my “Happy Mix” on Spotify.
I sometimes also dream of leaving early enough to grab Starbucks, but that is usually just a dream.
The work day
When I get to school, I go through a checklist of everything I need to do before the students arrive. Once they enter my room, I can’t leave, and being so popular, students usually show up in my room as soon as the bell rings to hang out.
If I didn’t make a pot of coffee, I need to hit up the break room Keurig. And I don’t say that lightly... I need to get some coffee! Without hot black caffeine flowing through my veins, I will fall asleep before lunch. Ever fall asleep in a room full of middle schoolers? Scary! No telling what could happen.
I also look at what assignments they will be working on that day. That goes with what I said before about not stressing myself into a flare. Better to be prepared!
It really depends on my day, our weekly schedule is made up of alternating days. And for reasons I will never understand, one of those days is a lot more busy than the other. The busy days, I am stuck in my room with the exception of 20 minutes for lunch. The not so busy day I might have a whole hour off. The point is, I find time to walk around the building. In order to fight stiffness and fatigue, I need to get my blood pumping a little. If I can’t get out of my room, just walking around as my students work is sometimes enough.
On a perfect day, my plan is to change my clothes at school, drive home, park my car and go on a 5 mile walk. I can’t go inside or my dogs will hear me and I might still walk, but it won't be 5 miles or fast. And more energy will be used on keeping my dogs from chasing rabbits.
If I can’t walk, I try to read a little. Just a moment to myself to wind down and relax. I know my night will be filled with doing stuff.
I do most of the cooking in my house. But, I also have to take care of the dogs and cats, clean up the yard, water plants, and do whatever else needs to be done in order to live some kind of decent life.
But, I will be honest, most nights I don’t want to do anything!
From 7:00 on all I can really do is sit in my recliner and watch whatever show we need to catch up on.
I would love to be one of those teachers who has a little side business or hobby. But, after the school day, I don’t have the energy.
Still, I need to program the coffee maker, lay out my clothes, and make tomorrow’s lunch.
In a perfect world, I want to be in bed my 9:30.
In a realistic world, I'm lucky if I’m asleep by 11:00.
At night I take a muscle relaxer so I can have some hope at peaceful sleep. Until I started taking that nightly, I had no idea how stiff I really felt when I woke up. Plus, it knocks me out so my wife can watch TV and I can sleep through it.
5 AM comes quickly.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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