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.