Occasionally, teachers, as well as others in stressful jobs, take what we call a mental health day, considering the stresses involved in the school environment and administration’s expectations, as well as the school’s routines, customs, and unique community.

We’re expected to conceptually teach each standard with the annual changes coming from state test data, reaching every student in their own culture and set of experiences while handling each misbehavior using documentation, time out, parent phone calls, referrals, while remaining entertaining to the rest of the class throughout.

A person’s attempt to do all of that can be overwhelming and disconcerting, and cause great stress. 

Every once in a while, I take a day off and just let all that stuff slide by without me. Yes, when I go back, I’m going to have to straighten out the things the students get away with on the substitute. I may even lose a little time with them, but for my sanity I stop, remove myself from “the monster,” realize it’s going to move on with or without me, and I become still. I regroup, refocus, straighten my priorities, and step back in, very similar to a prayer closet.

Kent Staples, interim music director at Church of Our Savior, teaches music at Loretta Elementary School in Mandarin.