Lately we’ve been doing some reflection on the typical traits that come along with being fully immersed in the role of “teacher”.  We are very aware that the world of working professionals (all professionals, not just educators) tends to glorify the concept of being busy constantly.  As go-getter educators we fall victim, to this trap as we both tend to pack our schedules full to the brim.  During the work week we both lead lunch time clubs and teams at our respective schools, we both either stay late at work, or bring work home to finish, and we both attend more professional development sessions in a school year than we are required to do.  We love our vocation; yet, we both often crave personal downtime and struggle to schedule that in.  I (Karley) can honestly admit that I sometimes feel a twinge of pride when I send off an email to a colleague at 10:45pm, thinking, “Ha – I did it.  I worked all day and I am still working!”

But what the heck!? Why do we do this to ourselves?

This year we vow to start chipping away at busting some of these typical teacher traits, such as glorifying the martyrs of education.  Here is what we have in mind:

Karley

This year I plan to start shedding the label of “teacher”.  As a young athlete I found my identity in rhythmic gymnastics and very quickly became known as “the gymnast” in my extended family, peer group and hometown.  I held on to this label for way too many years; in fact, when I was a B. Ed university student I still identified with the gymnastics label even though I had retired from the sport five years earlier.  I remember consciously deciding in my mid 20s that it was time to let go of “being the gymnast”.  It was hard for me to shed that label, which ultimately led me down a path of struggle and healing.  If I wasn’t “the gymnast” anymore, what was I?  After University I quickly picked up a new label: “the teacher”.  I wore this fresh new label so proudly, brandishing my teacher card at any store clerk who would provide the “teacher discount” for me.  As a new teacher I quite literally worked non-stop (and loved almost every single moment of it).  In fact, there are many posts in this blog’s early archives where you can read my super keen, brand new teacher writing – hilarious! At this point in my life I wear many hats.  I am a wife, a mama, an educator, a friend, etc., but often the label I immediately attach to is still “the teacher”.  I think it’s time to work on dropping the label again and I’m curious about what might happen if I start to release my grip on this title I worked so hard for.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Meaghan

Oh all the things we need to change… I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Why is the overworked teacher a point of pride? Why do we constantly do more and more without getting rid of other things? It’s not just about burnout, it’s about choosing to have a balanced life. This past year I have been consumed by all things education with my Masters and teaching full time, and in many ways I’ve loved it! I love being more knowledgeable about current educational research and I love being connected with so many people in this profession. But I’m learning that you can keep all the great, fun parts of the job and find ways to do less work. Set times to go home and stick to them. Don’t take work home on holidays and weekends, even if it means staying a little later on other days. There will always be times when we are extra busy – report cards being one of them. But why do we feel the need to overload ourselves during the rest of the year. A lot of this is not being done to us, whether we want to admit it or not it is often our choice to take on extra work. One of the things I want to start changing are leaving huge sub notes when I’m away. These often take me hours to write and prep just perfectly when really this is a qualified teacher who is capable of handling my classroom for a day. A note for math like “We are reviewing multiplication and division, do you have a game or activity?” has often led to creative new games and activities that I can add to my own repertoire. They are teachers and I need to start treating them like a professional, give them the notes about students (the ones that could probably be reused each time for most of the year) and the shape of the day.

When someone asks me how I am doing, I am no longer going to respond with “Busy.” Busy is not a way of life that I want to embody anymore. I’m done with busy.