Learning to Balance

This school year overall, I’ve done a pretty good job at having balance in my life, and it feels wrong.  Yes, that’s right.  It feels wrong that I’m not at school before 7:00 every day and don’t stay until 6:00 every night.  It feels wrong that I’m not taking home grading every single day.  It feels wrong that I’m not spending my entire weekends lesson planning and grading.  It feels wrong to not create everything from scratch for at least one of my preps this year.

I feel like I’m not doing enough.

But you know what feels right?  It feels right to spend Saturday afternoons at my cousin’s playing with her girls.  It feels right to spend my Saturday nights at church and then at home relaxing with a good book.  It feels right to spend most of Sunday doing whatever I want.

I’m trying to learn how to handle those feelings that are so opposite each other.

Earlier this year I really struggled with Sunday nights.  I started dreading them because I was bummed that my weekend was almost over and the school week started again.  I hated these feelings.  I felt so guilty for dreading Mondays, even to the point of wondering if teaching was really for me.  I mean, if it was, why was I feeling this way at the end of every weekend?

Then one week I had a realization that helped me understand what I was feeling. During my first few years of teaching, the school week was almost a break for me.  I spent all weekend lesson planning and preparing for the week.  Once Monday hit, I just implemented what I planned over the weekend and graded so I could spend the entire weekend lesson planning, and the process would repeat again.  Now that I’m in my 6th year, I’ve got a system to get my lesson plans and grading done during the week so that I can enjoy my weekends.  I’ve got balance.

During my first few years of teaching I didn’t dread Mondays because Monday was a break from lesson planning.  This year, I’ve been dreading Mondays not because I don’t like teaching anymore, but because my weekends are so much more refreshing than they used to be and I’m blessed to spend them with family and friends I love.  I’m sad to see that part of my week end.  Now that I understand this better, I’ve been able to be turn what used to be feelings of disappointment that the weekend is over into feelings of gratitude for what I was able to do over the weekend and excitement over what’s to come in the week.

I’m learning how to handle these feelings and struggles related to balance that are new to me.

Another recent realization I’ve had is that one of the reasons this balance I have this year has been a struggle and felt wrong is because it’s been…a while since I’ve actually had balance in my life.  This might actually be the first time in my adult life that I’ve had balance.  I double majored in college, so I always had a full load of classes as well as worked 2-3 jobs on campus.  Then I started teaching right after graduating.  The first couple years of teaching are just crazy, and I started my Masters during my third year of teaching and continued with other grad classes right after finishing my Masters.  SO all that to say that this school year has been the first year since teaching that I’m teaching the same classes as the year before and I’m not taking any grad classes.

It’s new.  It’s different.  It’s feels great and wrong and weird all at the same time.

I’m in the process of learning how to balance.

I think one of the things that’s been hardest about learning all of this over the course of the year is that I was totally unprepared for it.

People sort of prepare you for your first year of teaching, although nothing *truly* prepares you for it, and you’re prepared for year two because you went through year one.  But this switch to reteaching classes?  No one told me about that.  Maybe the change is more evident to me as a single person with no kids, I don’t know.

One of my fears as I start to learn balance is that I will enjoy this balance too much and won’t continue to grow, improve, and challenge myself as a teacher.  I’ve done a few things this past year to help me make sure that I’m not blindly reusing lessons from last year, and I want to be even more intentional with this next year.

I would LOVE to hear from those of you who have been teaching for 6+ years on how you are intentional about continuing to challenge and grow as a teacher.





Good Things: Volume 11

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4| Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7| Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10

One of my favorite parts of this week was completely unplanned and pretty much happened on accident.  This is something I can see myself doing every year, and I think you should try it too, which is why I’m sharing!

My students are taking their state test this coming week during their regularly scheduled class period.  I teach all middle school, so all of my classes have to take the state test.  SO I get to proctor tests all. day. long. for four days next week.  (Bright Side:  Lesson plans for next week were done in record time!)

When my students realized I would be proctoring tests all day long, they started asking what I would do all day.  After telling them I’m not allowed to do much of anything other than actively monitor them, they came up with some pretty crazy ideas for me.  (Put pages of books on the walls so I can read while I walk my room.  Paint eyes on my eyelids so I can sleep but it will look like I’m awake.  Call in sick all week. Ha!)

In one class, someone said that they should write an I Spy for me to play in my classroom while I walk around.  We joked about it, and moved on.

A few of them however didn’t forget about it.

At the end of the class, one student handed me a piece of paper with things for me to find.

  • Find how many s’s are on the poster above your door.
  • How many red squares do you have around your room?
  • How many signs or posters are on the front side of your classroom?


Then the next day another student walked in and handed me this.


She came up with these creative ideas on her own, typed it up, and printed it out.  What?!  It’s so great and made me smile.  I mean, how can you read, “Think of the Kool-Aid man bursting through the window.” and not smile?!

We had a few extra minutes of class today, so I asked them to come up with other ideas.  Some were so funny, and I found myself laughing out loud at some of them.  Others were super creative, and I found myself smiling over their fun ideas.

  • “Imagine your favorite book and imagine you are in the book.”
  • “ABC games find something that starts in an A then something that starts with a B and so on.”
  • “What kind of house would you build if you lived in a Minecraft world”
  • “Plan a trip around the world”
  • “Count how many people sneeze/cough during MCA’s.  (I really want to know).”
  • “Make up a letter, what it looks like, and how it sounds”
  • “How many inspirational signs can you find around the room?”
  • “Make up a number without using other ones.”
  • “How many laminated posters are there?”  (I blame the MTBoS for my laminating obsession!)
  • “Look for all the letters of the alphabet from A-Z in this room.”
  • “Think of a childhood song.  Then try to get it out of your head.  Example:  ABC’s”
  • “Think of what you would do if you didn’t have to walk up and down the rows.”
  • “Think of as many digits of pi as possible (My best 78 as of 5th grade)”
  • “How many ‘mistakes’ are in the room?”  (I love that they notice my emphasis on normalizing mistakes!)
  • “How many times can you see your face in your pictures by the desk?”  (There’s A LOT thanks to my MTBoS wall.)


So if you’ve got several hours of proctoring tests coming up in the next few months, ask your students how you should use your time!  It was a great light-hearted and fun way to end the last day leading up to our state tests.