Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stop The Insanity!

The Trick Is To BreatheI've been reading a number of posts recently that have highlighted, either directly or indirectly, how incredibly busy many teachers are. This, of course, is not a surprise to teachers, nor is it an affliction limited just to teachers.

On Saturday Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of 21st Century Collaborative posted You Might Be Too Busy If... where people from her Twitter network finished off the statement. Their responses are funny, but also attest to how very busy some of us are!

Then on Sunday, Chris Lehmann's post included a poem by one of the teachers on his staff, Matthew Kay. The poem is a great tribute to the amazing community that they have built at the Science Learning Academy where Chris is principal. It also emphasizes the amount of dedication and time the teachers, students and support staff put in to maintain that community. Here is a small sample from the poem, (I encourage you to go and read the whole thing here):
We’re 6:30 AM Practices. We’re 6:30 PM tutoring.

We’re prep periods lost observing

We’re lunches skipped counseling

We’re late night planning

We’re doling out hugs

We’re doing whatever we can to make sure

That the kids leave our classes inspired.

Both of these posts have me wondering how we can balance our dedication and passion for teaching while still nurturing our relationships with family, friends and ourselves. Are we looking after our own health and well being?

Michele Martin wrote Making Your Work Life More Manageable at the end of January and she has a number of really good suggestions. I was inspired enough by it to overhaul how I deal with my e-mails, although I still find it hard to only check my e-mail two times a day. How can I not check it when my iGoogle page is always up on my monitor??!!

Michele also wrote about including relaxing/non-work activities in your daily schedule; we've got to plan to do these things, or else they may not get done.  For me it has meant dedicating 60 minutes every other night to exercising; this includes the stretching afterwards.

Michele's post didn't discuss something that may be a very teachery trait--putting too much time into planning. Let's face it, that new unit you're working on could suck up all of your 'free' time--if you let it. To provide balance in their lives, I know some teachers who choose a specific time to wrap things up every day--they may 'do' school from 7:30am to 5pm, but once they leave the school, schoolwork is over. With a young family, I find this a hard one to do. My kids are in bed by 7:30pm so I elect to go home earlier and do more prep, marking, etc once the kids are in bed.

I wonder too about a culture in some schools and districts where there is an expectation that the teachers and/or the admin do not have a life outside of school. C'mon--we should have outgrown that idea once we were out of the primary grades (remember being surprised seeing your grade 1 teacher out and about?!)

"No."  This is a word that is so simple--just one syllable, only two letters, but it appears to be absent from the vocabularies of many stressed out teachers.  Every school has one or two teachers who have never even heard of this word.  You know, the ones that are soooo good at organizing assemblies, or sports tournaments, or school dances, or or or... and so they always get asked to do them.  If you know one of these teachers, please help them to get acquainted with this word!  And let's not always go to that same go-to guy or gal--spread the love around and give them a break occasionally.

Is the only time you pause to take a breath when you catch that cold at the beginning of winter/spring/summer break.  You know, the cold you couldn't afford to have while you were busy preparing for the winter concert/class trip/basketball tournament/end of course exams...  Maybe it is time to stop the insanity?

I know that what I have written about does not pertain just to teachers.  I'm also not advocating that people start slacking off.  It just seems like sometimes it is worthwhile taking a step back to look at the big picture.

What tips do you have for living a balanced life?  I'd love to hear from you!

Image: The Trick is To Keep Breathing

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that going part time has made the difference to me, but it does add to the pressures of worrying about money so don't know how useful a suggestion it is. cheers Sarah


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