Here is the heart of it…
Last year I was waiting. The year started off with me being a substitute teacher while I was waiting to head off on my travels. I’ll admit it substitute teaching has never brought out the best in me. I don’t have the relationships with students that make me want to be a great teacher, and I happily leave at the end of the day to get home way earlier than if I had a contract. I remember telling someone that substitute teaching was the best for work/life balance but in my case that is really not true because there is very little on the work side of that scale. Enthusiasm went out the window after week one. I was waiting. Waiting for my travels. Waiting for a “better” job.
When I returned from my travels I headed straight back into the classroom, by straight back I mean that I returned on a Wednesday and started teaching full time on the Thursday. I neglected my work life balance here again but the scale had tipped the other way. My home life was suffering because I chose to dive into a classroom and everything that entails, right after I had been off traveling with friends for 5 weeks. It wasn’t fair to my (now) husband and it wasn’t fair to myself.
After the winter break I entered in to some of the toughest teaching times I’ve experienced. I talked about it a bit and I wrote about it but I wouldn’t say that I really ever dealt with it. During these times I was put in the place of defending what felt like every decision I made as a teacher. My confidence took a big blow but I never acknowledged that part of it. Instead I was back in the waiting game because I knew I had a way out into a different job. A new job meant a fresh start, or so I thought. But by ignoring the healing I needed to do I wasn’t setting myself up for success. Within the first few weeks I had that familiar drowning in work feeling – trying to deal with a new school, new grades, new students, and new colleagues. Again I switched into this “waiting mode” by deciding that I could make it to Spring Break and then start anew after.
Little did I know that after Spring Break I would break my arm, need surgery, and be out of the classroom for weeks. Again with the waiting. And then it was June and the craziness of end of year hit. This is probably the time I enjoyed most out of the school year, but I was still in that waiting stage. Waiting for summer. Waiting for my wedding. Waiting for a break.
No, it wasn’t all bad. I really loved both my classes and made strong connections with lots of students and families. I enjoyed experimenting with the new curriculum. I got to travel and see more of the world, and experience that change in mindset that comes with it. I planned my wedding that was a perfect love filled and fun day.
So what didn’t work? What did all that waiting mean? It meant that I was not being mindful. I was not living in the moment. I was not fully present for all those moments in my life.
With this in mind, and the fact that I am heading into a busy year with my Masters starting this weekend. By making some important commitments to myself I feel ready for the year and I’m so excited for all the learning and growth that lies ahead. This year I am making a commitment to wait less, process more, and be more mindful:
First, I will listen to constructive criticism from the people I respect, and ignore criticism that is meant to harm.
Second, I will find ways to be happy in the job that I am in. Through good and bad times there are always ways to be happy – a connection with a colleague or a student, a creative teaching idea, an extracurricular, etc. (And no, I don’t have a job yet but I will! Positive thinking, positive thinking!)
Finally, I will practice yoga and/or meditation regularly. Focusing my mind always helps me to live in the moment and be present for the people that matter most.
Here’s to a year filled with mindfulness, love, and lots of laughter – We can do this together, teachers!