The reasons are many.  You could say it was the convergence of several forces.  We were considering training a “dog assisting diabetics”; the Sellwood bridge, which I cross twice daily to and from work, is falling down and being rebuilt; the health of our children; and my temper-fuse at home and work shortened proportionally with both my average class size and the number of preps.

In the school and classroom

Now that school has started and I am not in the classroom, managing 35 to 40 students in five different classes and three different topics, I could not be happier with our decision.  Last year was stressful and at many times not fun.  I found myself having to stop class at least once a week and have a short “discussion” about how most of them were concerned about their education, but that the four to six students who felt it was their job to derail each moment in class affected everyone’s education (and my mental health) in a severely negative way.

For my mental health, and for my family’s well-being, removing myself from the bulging classroom was a must.  I do miss being in the classroom.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching kids, joking with them, and getting to know them.  I hope to find my way back.  For the time being, though, my summer continues.

Service dog training

Every morning Maggie asks me, “So, what are you doing today?”  I know that she is thinking about a list of things she’d like me to get done.  She is all about resource utilization.  I’ve learned to have a few things at the ready that I’ll be doing throughout the day.  I don’t say I’ll be working with Bear.  Maggie has not let go of the poops he left in her room, and she’ll question me about the amount of time this takes.  The list will have something that I’m doing around the house (building a gate, placing posts in the ground) and maybe a trip to Costco, usually around lunch so I can take advantage of the $1.50 hot dog and soda deal.

Though it does not take up the majority of my time, Training Bear is one of the main reasons for the Sabbatical.

Other reasons

In addition to dog training and taking a breather from the classroom, I hope to do some consulting work.  Before teaching I did policy research, so I intend on using some of that expertise to dig up some work here in Portland.  While my work out of the home as diminished to near extinction, Heather’s career has been able to blossom because I am at home, so she can spend significant more time at work.


And because I am taking a year off, I am able to enjoy Sundays.  As a teacher, one of the more stressful days is Sunday.  After some time at home, I would have to steal away to either a cafe or my headphones to plan for the week ahead.  Now that I don’t have to plan, I have actually watched football on Sunday, gone on a bike ride, gone to Maggie’s soccer games, and done work around the house.  So far during my endless summer, Sundays are the highlight.


2 thoughts on “Sabbatical

  1. First thing: I hope I am not driving you nuts by commenting on a lot of your blogs! It is just so exciting for me to be able to communicate with someone who is at the same spot as me with a dog from the same litter. I am doing this alone. (Roman is for me- I was diagnosed last year with T1.)

    Second: your writing style is fantastic! I am so highly entertained. I love hearing about Bear’s antics, his progress, and your family’s experience. Have you thought about making this journey into a book?

    Third: What a great opportunity to take a sabbatical, especially while training Bear! I had (and have) a lot of mixed feelings about working full time while training Roman. I work at a large biotech, so I didn’t feel I could bring Roman (at least not until he was lower maintenance).

    Ok, I will leave this at only a “Fourth” :-). It is interesting to hear about your experience as a math teacher. I was just at a high school today, volunteering for my corporation’s new education agenda. We taught 9th graders how to do some cell staining and fluorescent microscopy. I have often thought of leaving research to get a teaching degree.

    • Anne, not at all driving me crazy. It is nice to know someone is reading the story. And it is nice of you to compliment the writing. As for the sabbatical, I am starting to wonder if it is too much time with Bear, since I am not the T1. As I’ve written, I am a little anxious about how (or if) Bear will transition to being nearly full time with Declan (and maybe Maggie). Last, before transitioning to teaching, or pursuing a teaching degree, I would encourage you to volunteer in a classroom once a week, to get a feel for what education is like day in and day out. The current funding limits to education in Oregon raise the anxiety and stress of teaching on many dimensions.


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