Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Balancing Act

Saying I've had a trying last 5 months would be putting it nicely...an understatement equivalent to saying that you should probably not put the buffalo chicken dip near me at a party if you want anyone else to get some of it (I'm good at sharing with others until it involves cheese and buffalo-y goodness).   It's been unbelievably challenging personally and the thing that's hit me the hardest is the way it has made me feel as a professional. We go into this profession because we love to help. If you're teaching and you don't love kids and seeing them light up, you need to find another line of work. We work 60....70....80 hour weeks for the first few years of our career to try to prove ourselves. We do all those things you see teachers do in the movies- bring kids things from your own home to make sure they don't go without, commiserate with kids who are struggling with situations that are more than just academic, and get truly invested in a group of munchkins who you will have to say goodbye to in just a few short weeks.

When life happens, it's hard to strike a balance between that "movie" teacher we want to be and the reality of what we can handle. I had to spend a few weeks working to my contract hours only and it's almost unimaginable the amount of things that couldn't get done- the grading, the tutoring, the formative assessment and feedback, the parent emails, the committee meetings, the re-writing of lessons to help them to meet the needs of different kids, the club meetings that had to be cancelled, the bathroom breaks (yes, those and lunch go right out the window first). I don't think in my years of trying to prove myself I realized just how much of my own time I was giving up to be the type of teacher I wanted to be. And I didn't realize the guilt I'd feel when I needed to invest my own time in myself and not in my kids. 

I'm still working on getting back in balance....on being able to take some time out of my own personal life to let myself heal without feeling like I'm letting kids down. On being able to be okay with working only 50 hours a week. If anyone has found a magic pill to cure this, let me know. Until then, I'm taking it one day at a time and knowing that I'm doing the best I can. I'm also saluting everyone who gets up every morning and smiles at kids as they walk into homeroom while putting aside their concerns about their own children, their own family, a chronic illness,  a whole history of personal tragedies and fears. This career is not for the faint of heart and the only way to sustain it is to find a way to be both a teacher and a person. 

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