Over the past few weeks, I haven’t written for a few reasons:
- The beginning of the school year can sometimes feel like chaos. 150 names to learn. 150 relationships to build. Schedules change. Students have bad days. We have bad days. A lot of things are unpredictable and take some time to settle down.
- My teaching load looks very different this year than it has in years past, so I have been feeling overwhelmed trying to figure all of it out and how to be the best teacher I can be for every student in my room. I have more accommodations to provide than ever before. It takes time to learn what students need and to create those necessary materials to help them learn.
- In my district, we are living in the limbo of a potential strike over our lack of contract for the past year and a half. As of now, we have one week of school left until strike. This makes me question everything I am doing because it is very unclear how long our potential strike may last. If it even comes at all.
- I’m also struggling to maintain some balance in my life between being a teacher and being a person, a serious goal that I set and shared with all of you earlier this year. I wanted to go to weekly trivia. I wanted to not be doing work on the couch every night. I wanted to be very committed to my family when I got home from work.
It’s been a lot to handle and until this week, I have felt like a failure in many ways. I failed at maintaining the work-life balance that I know I NEED in order to be my best self for my students. Nightly work on the couch has been frequent. I have missed some weekly trivia Tuesdays with my husband and my friends. I failed at letting my emotions over this potential strike get the best of me and have been feeling down. I have felt like I failed at being the teacher that my students needed at certain points. Some lessons I have planned way too much that we are not able to get through. Some lessons I clearly needed to plan more practice. I have made the necessary adjustments, but it has been a lot of extra work and I can’t stop thinking about how I should have seen what my students would have needed from the start.
This past week, I was determined to step out of this rut that I was in. I was feeling down and frankly on the verge of tears a lot of the time. That amount of stress and anxiety was something that I could no longer bear. In my heart of hearts, I know that I am a good teacher and that I am capable of meeting the needs of my students. I know that I am able to build relationships with them even with the thought of leaving them for a strike flying around in my head. I also know that I am capable of doing a good job at work while still working on myself as an individual and being there for my family.
Sometimes the heavens open up and send you a sign, and this week I got the exact opportunity that I needed for a turnaround. I was scrolling through my Instagram earlier in the week to find that my favorite podcast host, Shawn Stevenson of the Model Health Show, was hosting a talk just down the street from my house. If you are not a current listener, The Model Health Show is something that you should check out. Shawn and Jade (the hosts) talk all things health. I’m not just talking about nutrition and exercise, which they do discuss often, but I am talking about the real deep down depths of health. Emotions, sleep, stress, failure. Everything is connected and Shawn and Jade really make this come alive for people in a very supportive and healing environment.
For the talk, there were a limited number of seats available. In my state of stress, I hesitated to reserve at first because the talk was on a school night. What if I had papers to grade? Or accommodations to make? Or lessons that still needed to be translated into Spanish? And then, I stopped. I took a moment for reflection and felt something begin to turn. I thought, “I am allowed to take a break for myself, especially to enjoy things that I love. The work will still be there when the talk is over.” So I clicked, “Purchase.”
It turns out that this talk was a surprise recording of an episode and the content of the show was exactly what I needed. People asked a variety of questions, but many of them were connected with meeting goals and what to do when we feel like we’ve failed. The advice was (this is a shortened version): It’s important that when you feel like you fail, you get right back up again. And you have to just keep getting up. The struggle is part of the journey of figuring out where you are supposed to be and it can also teach you a lot about yourself. This is something that we all know, but something that we need to hear again from time to time.
And with that, I am starting to get back up and starting to feel like I can take on this school year and be the best teacher that I can be for my students. I felt a turn the day after I heard the talk. A lot of it came from what I heard that night, but a lot of it also came from inside of me. I have proactively begun to put some things in place that will help me better serve my students and to take some of the stress and pressure off of my shoulders. I also am sticking to some weekly rituals with my family to help me get ready for the week and feel the smallest amount of stress possible.
Throughout this time of transition and reflection at the beginning of the school year, I have learned that I am resilient. I am able to brush off my shoulders, make a plan, and try again the next day. However I know that I am nothing without the support of the people around me. It is my husband, my family, my friends, my students that keep me pushing to figure it out and to be my best self each day. This is just another stepping stone in the journey, and while the school year thus far has not been what I had planned, I know that I am going to come out better because of it.
How’s your year going? What struggles or triumphs have you faced? Comment below and keep the conversation flowing!Share This: