Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Teacher Life: A Blessed Burden

Hi friends.  I am so, so sorry I've been absent for a while.  These past months have been all consuming - physically, mentally and emotionally - and, let's be honest, I'm just trying to keep my head above water...

I have sat to write this post countless times and every time I'm unable to finish it.  I haven't blogged in about three months for several reasons and I'd like to share a little bit of an explanation. Not because you necessarily want it. Or need it. And not because I enjoy sharing my personal life.  Maybe it's because I want to get things off my chest. Maybe because I'm a mentor this year and want to share some advice to new teachers. Or maybe because I just feel a calling to say something. Either way, allow me to explain....

 I have always had a passion for teaching.  I am a teacher.  It is just as much a part of my identity as saying I am a woman or mother. I work hard to be the best teacher I can be and with the beginning of this blog and my TeachersPayTeachers store, I have taken my passion for teaching and helping others a step further.  However, my personal (i.e. non-teaching) life has simply needed my attention more in the past few months.  My blogging, creating, and teacher life has quietly taken a backseat until I felt ready to dive back in. 

During last year's school year, my life changed.  I became a single mother. My then husband and I separated and later filed for divorce. I will not go into details for the sake of his privacy, mine and our children's, but I will say the past year has changed our lives drastically. My girls and I have had to learn a new way of life. A new routine. A new structure to our lives and our home. We sold and moved out of our house and we are learning how to start over. 

At first I was grateful for my career.  Through all of the changes - the ups and downs, the uncertainty - teaching and my passion for it was always a constant.  In all honesty, there have been many times it was the one thing I felt I was doing right.  In the past year, I threw myself into my classroom.  I put all of my extra time and effort into my students.  I was more productive and organized than I had ever been, simply because I didn't know what else to do. 

However, things slowly started changing...for anyone who has been through go through a period of intense self reflection.  Who you are essentially changes.  You are no longer a wife.  Or a husband.  Part of your identity changes and with that you reconsider the other pieces in your life that make you who you are.  During this time of reflection, I took the opportunity to evaluate where I was putting my priorities.  One thing I realized was just how much I had depended on my identity as a teacher.  So much so, that, I admit, I hid behind it.  When I was overwhelmed or facing something I didn't want to deal with, what did I do?  Throw myself into work.  When I was avoiding something that was uncomfortable, what did I do?  I spent more time at school.  While the rest of my life seemed to fall apart, I focused my attention on teaching - I guess in hope that it would be one thing that didn't.  I was letting my career consume me. My passion had taken over and, quite frankly, it was no longer a blessing, but a burden. 

By the end of the summer, I recognized that I needed a mental break. Not very good timing considering school was starting in a few weeks...but still, a break was needed. I've spent the last few months focusing on myself and my children. Growing my relationship with them and with God. And mostly just enjoying life and the small the blessings I have every day. 

I still love teaching. It's still just as much a part of my identity as being a woman and mother. But now I'm not hiding behind it. I'm embracing it. And I'm taking time to also be a friend, a sister, a daughter, a sports fan, a runner - just me. And in the end, I honestly feel like I'm a better teacher. 

Not to sound dramatic....but in the past year, my teaching career really has saved me. Given me something firm to hold onto. Something I could feel confident about. 

It has also taught me that, to be a better teacher, at times it's ok to walk away.  You don't have to be the one at school late every night. The one working all weekend, every weekend. The one with the best lesson plans or elaborate activities every single day. Or the one with the prettiest, brightest, most well equipped classroom.  

The one thing that matters most in the classroom is simply you and your heart. Take care of yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Call a time out. It's ok. You may be a super-teacher, but your alter ego is still human. As teachers, most of us strive for perfection. It's a part of us.  And it's hard to let go of. Trust me.  I'm still working on it....But I'm not perfect.  No one expects me to be.  And the same goes for you.  So spend time with your family. Have some fun.  Laugh. A lot. Teaching can be a huge part of who you are - but take time to discover and nurture the other parts of you as well. Make time for you. Your students will thank you.


  1. Thank you for your transparency. Your words came at the perfect time.

  2. Beautifully written! Every needs a break every now and again.