Tag Archives: work life balance

Week 32: The Sweet Spot

Teaching always moves through ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like too much, sometimes it feels just right. This week, it feels like exactly where I need to be at exactly the right school with exactly the right children. I hope this is symptomatic of my personal growth over time, as opposed to the winding down of a school year or the change in weather, but whatever the cause, I’ll take it.

Too often Sundays feel anxious. Instead of a day of relaxation, they usually feel like the day before Monday, the day before my life shifts back into work mode. Lately, they’ve been different. They have felt untethered to the demands of the week. Likewise, where Friday used to feel like my saving grace, lately it has felt instead like an unexpected surprise at the end of the day, like I could keep going, like I still have more to do and do not mind.

I want to know what the difference is, so that I can make this how I always feel about my work. I know it’s not a change in the kids, they’re just as challenging and wonderful as ever. It has something to do with me.

Maybe I do better when the days are longer and the sun is out. Maybe the seven weeks until summer has me more relaxed or the promise of STAR testing being over soon is comforting. Perhaps it is the end of two years with the same kids and the knowledge of my real love for them as our days come to an end. Then again, it could be I have slowed down after work, making more time for nothing instead of cramming every moment with writing. Or, just maybe, I really did pick a profession I enjoy and this is the beginning of years of liking what I do.

Oh goodness, if I could only be so lucky. If to teach and write could be enough, my life would be full in a way I always dreamed but never expected.

Week 32 was test prep and our annual teacher appreciation days. I got sweet notes and gifts and words of encouragement. Smiles where sometimes there has been conflict. Little gestures of gratitude to show I am at the right place at the right time with the right kids. As I stood in front of parents yesterday for Saturday School, I thanked each family for giving me the honor of spending two years with their children. My eyes filled with tears. The right place.

Teacher Appreciation

It’s amazing how appreciation from families makes my job feel right.

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Week 25: If I could just surrender…

This week I surrendered to teaching. With my big observation next week, report cards almost due, and the talent show around the corner, this week was packed. Then there was that two hour non-profit interview about my residency experience, a few more parent phone calls, and all my regular responsibilities, like actually planning, teaching, organizing, making copies.

Thursday morning I awoke from a dream where I was presenting my lesson for my observation to an auditorium full of 500 squirmy children, including a rowdy bunch of high-schoolers who entered and exited in the middle of everything. Oddly, I made it through the entire lesson, step by step, and opened my eyes with the feeling that if I could teach under those conditions, then I’d be fine in real life with the dreaded rubric.

As if it weren’t enough that I couldn’t escape my job while sleeping, Thursday turned out to be all around intense. Good old Maniac Magee had one of his most challenging days yet, (which always means ten other children also have urgent needs arise simultaneously). To make everything more fun, at the very peek of all the excitement, a herd of observers, possible donors as I later found out, headed straight for my door. Fortunately I was able to mouth the words, “We’re kind of in the middle of an emergency,” to my principal before they descended on my classroom.

Needless to say, I have been thinking a lot about what makes my job stressful and why sometimes I am able to manage it better than others. In the last seven days I have been told by three separate people that I am a saint. I assure all interested parties that I am not. But, I would really like to be. I’d like to always be calm, collected, loving no matter what is happening around me. Sometimes I am closer to this than others.

This week I accepted teaching as my entire life. I surrendered. I admit, I put up a fight on Tuesday, and felt miserable for it, but by Wednesday afternoon I accepted that things like afterwork yoga in an actual studio just weren’t going to happen. And, once I stopped fighting it, everything felt a lot better, minus a few minutes yesterday when I thought my head might explode because everyone needed my attention and I just wanted to curse.

See, definitely not a saint.

Which brings me to now, Friday night. I left work later than usual, went to a meeting, still have work to do this weekend, but I feel at peace. I’ve surrendered. If only I could always surrender. I almost wish I did not have such a deep-rooted desire to write books. If I could just teach, or at least just teach during the year and ignore book writing until my breaks, I think I could be a more relaxed human being… Half the reason I fight 11 hour days at school is because I am so anxious to get home and work on my writing. My nagging need to produce words won’t go away.

This all leads me to you, kind reader. I must know. Do you surrender to one passion at a time or chase everything at once?

Today, a student gave me the most sincere letter of my teaching career, which will now live proudly on my home desk with the school bus, a humorous gift from a friend with me at the wheel. My heart is in it. So, why do I still need to do five things at once.

Today, a student gave me the most sincere letter of my teaching career, which will now live proudly on my home desk with the school bus, a humorous gift with me at the wheel. My heart is in it. So, why do I also need to be a published writer?

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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s Back to Work I Go!

I know as a teacher I should be the last person to complain to go back to work. I get breaks and I mostly like my job. Not such a bad life. Still, each time a break comes to a close, I go through a brief funk. It’s hard to let go of the time to write, to do yoga, to sleep, to see friends and family… It requires a shift in my brain to my other self.

Today I went back to work, the kids follow tomorrow. This evening I continued my longest consecutive string of yoga ever. I have been doing yoga everyday for a couple weeks and I am finally beginning to see why instructors encourage this– I feel amazing and am able to do more than I ever have been in the past, (even when I was doing 3-4 days of yoga/week). I share this now in hopes it helps to keep me dedicated. A little reminder to my future self.

I could never bring myself to invest the time or money to go to a yoga studio daily, (especially since most classes are 90 minutes and just getting there/home adds another 30 minutes to my day). However, I recently discovered that watching yoga on Hulu Plus is actually pretty productive, (even if the ads and cheese factor can be annoying). It is the missing piece I needed to break up my studio visits and a nice change of pace from the routines in books.

Coming home to yoga this evening, I realized there really are ways to make life feel more balanced and better after work. Now it’s time for a little tech-free quiet as the last ingredient to my evening… Tomorrow, kiddos, day one of my peace project, and some more yoga!

Student #8 has a happy note waiting on her desk for her day as my secret student.

Student #8 has a happy note waiting on her desk for her day as my secret student.

My room is ready for a new year and 30 happy kiddos.

My room is ready for a new year and 30 energetic kiddos.

And, you get to see my cat play with a toy whale because she's cute...

And, you get to see my cat play with a toy whale because she’s cute and we know she loves yoga too… yes, still.

Happy balanced Monday!

Happy balanced Monday!

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