Meaghan and I decided that this year, along with our reestablished commitment to blogging with our authentic voice(s), we needed to figure out where we were at on our own personal blogging and teaching journeys.
My personal challenge this year will be to remain a “no” girl. That is, I vow to say NO to most things asked of me. No thank-you, I won’t coach that team. No sorry, I probably won’t make it to that extra-curricular planning meeting. And, no, I won’t go in to school on weekends. Let me be clear in saying that almost always I ask and expect myself to do these things. I am a pleaser, a doer and somewhat of an extremist so if a colleague or my administration asks extra of me this year of course I will professionally consider doing the work, but not before weighing in how the “extra” will impact my family life. Saying “no” is going to be my secret to balancing work and life this year. Thankfully I have my almost-two-year-old to remind me (quite often) how exactly to say it…noooooooo!
I dabbled with this “just say no!” work/life balance strategy last year a little bit, but I wasn’t entirely successful because I was still an academic teacher who had just come off an excellent year of maternity leave. I felt stuck as the “do it all” type of teacher that I am, while having a tiny daughter at home to care for. Mad props to all you working parents. I learned a lot last year and even though I taught and was paid for .6 FTE (three full days a week) I actually worked full time (3+ hours per night at home after my daughter went to bed, even on my days off). Somehow I still managed to exercise and read for pleasure. I don’t want to cram all this in anymore; it isn’t a truly pleasant way to live, to be honest. When exercising starts to feel like a chore, I know I’ve gone down a slippery slope.
This year, and years in the future, will be different. After a lot of thinking and debating I have decided to say NO to the classroom for a few years. Instead I’ve chosen to delve back in to the amazing, exciting and fun world of being an exploratory teacher. A few weeks ago I was offered a (part-time) continuing contract teaching middle school dance and drama and I immediately accepted the offer. For me, this contract will allow me space. Space to be the mama I want to be to my incredible toddler. Space to exercise well. Space to cook and plan healthy meals. Space to spend time with my family. And space to take a dance class of my own! While being an exploratory teacher is no joke (we teach every single student in the school over the course of the year!) teaching dance/drama will totally alleviate the workload because for me teaching dance is second nature. The sheer joy I find in (teaching) dance can not be matched. This part-time continuing contract is an incredible gift to me and I plan to do great things with it. I’ll be working in a school that has never had an established dance program (that I know of), so one could say I am essentially starting from scratch! While being an exploratory teacher will not be the duration of my entire teaching career, it definitely will play a prominent role for the next five years or so. I am so excited to see what these next years have in store!
I am in my final year of my 20s and I’m finally learning to say NO to most things so that I can say YES to the things I actually want to do. Heck, maybe I AM getting wiser with age!