This is a weird short note I’m going to be writing. It’s basically an apologia, and a defense, for my lack of posting in the first few weeks of school. This is PRIME time for posting, because this is the time we’re setting up routines, finding ways to create a rapport with our classes, and still excited about trying new things.
And yet, I’m not posting about it.
I wanted to tell you the reason why. For the past four years — since I’ve started teaching — I’ve put school first. In almost every aspect of my life. And I think it was necessary for me to come into my own as a teacher. That time… it was time well spent. My first year of teaching, I would work until 10pm or 11pm each night. It wasn’t healthy, but it was necessary. Looking back I’m surprised I didn’t burn out. But I was in love with designing lesson plans. And each year, there was something that would cause me to stay late and obsess over something or another. Even last year, when I was first starting out standards based grading in calculus, I recall staying at school until 8pm or 9pm on many nights, and it wasn’t months later that I figured out ways to streamline things to get me out of the building faster, and still serve the students well. The point is: I’ve devoted my life to teaching, at the expense of doing other things.
This year… at least this first quarter… I’m trying something new. I’m putting ME first.
I’m allowing myself to go out with friends on weeknights. I no longer am turning friends down for dinner because it’s a Wednesday. (Do you believe that I used to never go out on weekdays? Until this year it was so rare for me to accept an invitation to do anything on school nights.) I’ve gotten myself a theater subscription. I’m still reading up a storm. I’m reminding myself of the non-school-things that are a part of me! This is the year I can do it, because I’m teaching two preps (not my usual three) and both are classes I taught last year. Next year that’s bound to change. So I want to take advantage while I can.
I told my sister (teacher extraordinaire) this and she said she was so happy I made this decision. She told me she thought I was working myself silly, and she thought more than once in the past four years that I was going to burn myself out.
I also want to encourage y’all to make a similar pledge: to put yourselves first, before school. It’s something that’s made me so much happier, and also a better teacher. Because I’m constantly in a good mood. I don’t know how to describe it, but I feel happier. Things that used to annoy me, they still annoy me, but they roll off my back more easily. I have a better perspective on things, because I don’t have the time to obsess about the little things. And I know I have a dinner with friends, a gallery opening, a trivia night, a book reading, waiting for me at the end of the day.