I’m half-way through my second year as a middle/high school Spanish teacher with 5 different Spanish preps and a reading class. As the end of the first semester and the end of the calendar year looms closer I tend to become reflective about the year, what I’ve accomplished, what I’d like to accomplish and how to do that. What has stuck out to me this year is balance.
So often as teachers it is easy to get caught up in the go go go of the system. Go lesson plan. Go grade. Go to the student activities. Go do some professional development. Go to the meeting. Go fill out the paperwork. Go push yourself to be better. These are all good and necessary things but, as you know, the list gets long. What I don’t include in the list are things like: Go do dishes. Go do laundry. Go get groceries. Go see friends. Go have date night with your spouse. Go spend time worshiping. Go take a nap. Go do something you enjoy that is purely yours. Go cook. Go be active. Go rest. All of those are good and necessary things as well.
In my first year of teaching I did a lot of “going” on that first list. The result? I lost 20 pounds (which I didn’t need to lose. I’ve since been working to gain them back. Yes, you can hate me now), I got really sick, really tired and really burnt out. My lessons weren’t executed well because I was in a fog. The end of my first semester, my lessons were less than stellar. My house fell into disarray, I missed my friends and I felt very alone.
The epiphany of this year for me has been, you can’t go all the time. You can’t cover all the “go’s” that you sometimes feel like you have to or are expected to cover. It is OK, and healthy, to go less. If I don’t do more of the things from that second list, I can’t accomplish any from the first list. As new teachers it is easy to get caught up in the expectations of others and you are still in that fantasy that you can do it all and do it well. I’m not saying we can’t do it all and do it well. I’m saying you can’t do it all and do it well right out of the gate. I’m learning that it will take time to build myself up to the teacher I want to be, and that’s ok.
Now I strive to choose a “go” from each list and keep myself balanced. As a result, I’m doing less in my classroom but I’m doing less much better! My students get a better teacher who does less. They get a teacher whose less is more because she can answer questions better, organize better, execute better and manage better.
Do I think I have all the answers? Am I some sage you should be listening to? No. I’m just a second year teacher trying to find her way, sharing what she’s learned and hoping it might help someone else in a similar position.
As we near the end of the year I encourage you to rest. To choose your “go’s” carefully. To find balance, happiness and acceptance of your limitations (my biggest struggle). I’m not encouraging you to be sloth or lazy. I’m encouraging you to do more with less. Be healthier, happier and see that being the teacher you want to be is a journey that takes time. As one brand of toilet paper urges, “Enjoy the go”.
Until Next Time,