I am in the midst of year 20 and have found myself being extremely reflective about all of the experiences I have had in various schools over the past two decades. I thought I would jot some of these down over the next few months as I take a walk down Memory Lane.
My first principal taught me a tremendous lesson in her first hour of the yearly staff development before school began. Dr. Cynthia Gillespie, my principal at Pickering Elementary, was jovial and smiled all the time. I was a very nervous young teacher who was not quite ready to face those scary 5th graders. She basically told us, "This is hard work. You can literally put yourself in an early grave doing this job. I better not see you taking work home every single day. I better not see you working late every single day. I better see you working hard, but smart. If you burn out, you will not be able to serve kids."
I thought to myself, "Um....what does she know? Of course I am going to work late every day and every night. I want to be awesome."
She was right. I learned there is a difference between working hard but aimlessly and working hard with a determination to help kids. Teaching, done well, is hard. I started blood pressure medication at age 31. I had to step back and think if the 24 hours a day I thought about teaching was worth 156/120 blood pressure. No! I went back to what Dr. Gillespie said and made some changes in my life.
There has to be a balance. You can't work 15 hours every day grading papers, creating materials, worrying about the darling who cried, and thinking about how you are going to get those very cool materials for the lab you want to do without telling your husband you need to spend yet another $50 out of your pocket this month. Finding ways to help kids achieve more without killing myself became my goal. I learned a few tricks I will share in the next few blogs.
Balance means you find time for your family, for your spirit, for your health, for your friends, and for your own interests. Balanced teachers are what Dr. Gillespie was explaining to me that day. She knew if I never found some downtime I would burn out. She knew if I did not renew myself, I would crash faster. I have to say I work pretty hard, but the speech a principal ever gave me echos daily for me.
I turned off my computer this past weekend. I did NO work for school. I just enjoyed my kids. I read a few novels. I exercised. I played with friends. I went to school this morning with a clear mind and a renewed spirit.
If you are struggling this winter season, consider balance. I challenge you to inventory your life in five areas: family, friends, health, spirit, and mind. Are your balanced? (No eye rolling....I promise I have areas i