Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vacation

Heading out for vacation today and ironically, I came across a post on Twitter about putting the "vacate" in your vacation.  I spoke about this with my colleagues, who encouraged me to leave the laptop closed and "step away from the inbox."  I wanted to fight back and assured them that, if they really needed me, I would be available by phone and that I could still check my email at night when everyone went to sleep.... They looked at me with crooked smiles on their faces and gave me a playful shove.  I know, I thought to myself - don't worry about it.  This is exactly what they were thinking.

At a previous school, I had teachers who begged me "not to learn anything new" while I was on vacation. They explained that, whenever I came back I always had fresh ideas for them to try out in their classrooms.  This translated, of course, into more work for them, more training that they would need, and definitely more time away from their own rest and relaxation...

While I am a firm believer in always learning new things, I have a new appreciation of vacation and what it means to treat your people well.  It has only taken me twelve years as a public school administrator to figure it out...

1.) Leaving your work at work while you're on vacation allows others to step up and take charge.  If you have been transparent and included your people every step of the way, they've got it under control.  Let them step up.  They can do it.  Trust them.

2.) Leaving your work behind while you are on vacation allows you to free your mind.  You need to do that.  I have learned that, miraculously, everything will still be there when you get back...  and running just the way you left it.  This doesn't mean that your employees don't need you, like I used to think in my early days of administration; it just means that people have learned from you.  Be proud of that, and be proud of them.

So I leave today for New York.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as my son and his baseball team play for the next few days in Cooperstown.  My wife and I will live the lives of baseball parents - cheering, rooting, soaking up the sun, and just being.  I will finish reading the novel I have been reading on and off for the last year, and I will let my mind wander.  I will enjoy the road trip for the sheer excitement and driving pleasure that is a road trip.  And I will leave work behind.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I am trying to tell myself that I deserve it.