Sunday, September 7, 2014

Teaching: Not Just for School Marms

It's a new school year. I've met this year's batch of over 125 (or so) kiddos. I have three classes of 8th graders and one class of 6th.  They are amazing. I'm stoked to get to know each one's story and plan great projects and get them to love reading and and and and...the list goes on...

That list of what I want to do this year has me thinking about how there was a REASON why teachers of the past weren't allowed to stay teachers once they married.  They were expected to devote all (or most) of their time and emotional energy to their students and their students' community.

I would love to be that teacher who opens her room before school, who can have conversations with students during lunch, who is willing to stay long after school to help a student grasp a challenging concept

But that's not me. I care about and even honestly love these students, but I love my own son more. I can't imagine telling him, years from now, that I repeatedly chose not to go to the park with him because I needed to plan a new project or grade lots of essays.

I appreciate and respect the teachers who are able to give more of themselves than I am.  But something inside of me simply can't do it.

I have one student this year. She's new to our school. She wrote an essay about how much she misses her old school. I have some ideas for how to get her connected to our little (not so little anymore) community, but I can't bring myself to do much more than email the folks in charge of the student groups that can get her connected.  Will that be enough?  I don't know, but if I try to do more than that, I might cry.

I have read articles about the thoughts moms have as they are trying to lay down to sleep - I have all of those thoughts, and then I have thoughts about the boy who I'm pretty sure can't read, about how to hone my craft so that my principal actually notices (rather than continuing to judge me one one thing he saw two years ago), about how to lead a department and still maintain friendships.

My mind is full of thoughts about how to be a better teacher.

But I have to let that go, often, I have to let that go.

My husband needs a conversation from me, not just my body in the same room as he is while I type frantically on the computer each night. My son deserves my full attention, not my wandering thoughts that I rush to email to myself before I forget.  I deserve to explore my other interests - to bake, to take photos, to write, to run.

So, I am striving to find balance in my home and work life. At many times during the school year, I cannot find the hours in the school day to do all the things.  But at home, I can limit when work bleeds into my home life. I can put my family, my friends, my health, before the work. I can say no. When I cannot work directly with a student as much as I would like, I can pray for that student. I will pay extra attention, when I can, to those students who need it.  The work will get done, eventually.

I will remember that I'm not a lonely school marm with no family of my own. I will take a breath and live the life I've been blessed with, the life I've chosen.


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