Are You Doing Okay? | Three Teachers Talk

This has been a year.

The last time I wrote a post for Three Teachers Talk was last May when I was in the midst of trying to get my students to finish a research paper on the the “Positives of the Pandemic.” At the time I would never have thought that we would be teaching all school year in a pandemic and I would be trying again to teach a new research paper to students remotely (and to those in person) at the same time.

Last year I thought that teaching was hard. This year, teaching remotely and then concurrently to students in person and at home at the same time nearly broke me. I ask if you are doing okay, because it is okay if you aren’t okay. I wasn’t okay for much of this year. What we have been asked to do during this ongoing pandemic takes teaching to a new level. I thought I was a techie before (HAHA!), but boy was I wrong. I have learned so much (Canvas, Zoom, Remind, Google Hangouts, Padlet, Nearpod, Google Jamboard, Google Sites, EdPuzzle, etc.) and yet still feel like a failure everytime I am teaching my class.

This week I led a training for our 1st and 2nd year teachers focusing on the topic of our mental health and work/life balance. We read the article, A New Way to Think About Work-Life Balance, which resonated with me because until this fall I did not know what work/life balance really meant to me. I spent the first six months of the pandemic working all hours of the day and night, answering text messages and phone calls, spending hours on Zoom with administration, and by August I was burnt out and exhausted. I was not mentally in a place where I was excited to start the school year with students. In all 23 years of my teaching career, I have never felt this way before. I thought I needed work/life balance. I was not okay.

In A New Way to Think About Work-Life Balance, elementary school principal, Joe Mullikin, offers a new perspective. In reality there is no such thing as work/life balance. The key word being balance. It is impossible to “balance” lesson planning, grading, observations, family, me time, coaching, etc. all at one time, so instead we need to learn how to juggle, and know that it is OKAY to drop some “plastic balls” (responsibilities) from time to time as long as we don’t drop the “glass cups” (the things that make us who we are or are most important to us). Problems arise when we confuse “ghosts” (self-imposed, deep-seated, but nonessential expectations) with “glass cups”. Ghosts are not real and we need to be reminded to let them go.

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