My first blog post in more than two weeks! Going back to work has been exhausting to say the least. During the months of my maternity leave, I seem to have forgotten how much energy is involved each school day, both in class and when I’m off the clock. It’s energy that I feel like I just don’t have right now, as much as I wish I did. I don’t have the energy that I had just a few weeks ago to devote to personal pleasures such as my blog and reading. Instead, it’s all about reading logs and word walls and lesson planning.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be back and have a “real job” again. I was withering on the vine at home without some form of a routine. However, the change has been a bit too sudden, to the point where I have found myself totally passing out by 7pm, dead to the world, after a full school day and subsequently waking up at 3am, unable to go back to sleep. What can I say? I’m a wimp. I wind up doing the bulk of my homework grading and lesson planning at 4am or so, which needless to say has led to some interesting classes. I’ll just let you use your imagination with that one!
The fact is, I take my profession very seriously. For me, it’s more than just a paycheck or a job and even more than a career. It’s partially how I identify myself. I feel like you can’t be a good teacher if you do not embody noble qualities that come with being an educator and a role model for impressionable minds. You have to be honest, fair, empathetic, passionate, and a leader, amongst other qualities.
I don’t care how nerdy it sounds; I honestly feel exhilarated at the end of a successful, productive lesson. I thrive on the daily interactions with so many different people and the fact that no two days are ever the same. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true that I do relish those rare but precious “ah-ha” moments I experience when I am able to get across to a student, and I enjoy a good rapport with pretty much all of them.
But with all that emotional investment comes a price. It’s hard for me not to fall into the temptation to want to be liked by my students as much as I know that above all my priority should be being respected. I want to be the “cool” teacher whose name everyone wants to see on their schedule. I want to be the teacher with the interactive, interesting, and innovative hands-on lessons that address all the points of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s multiple intelligences that leave my students learning and hungry to learn even more. When a lesson flat-out fails, a part of me takes it personally, feeling like I’ve failed, too. As much as I love my job, there are parts of me that feel emotionally insecure about it, that I’m not good enough. I wonder at times if I’m the only one among my colleagues who gets the haunting, nagging feeling now and then that I have no idea what I’m doing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m much more of “The Absentminded Professor” than Erin Gruwell from “The Freedom Writers” in terms of my teaching style and personal character.
Having to master the balancing act now more than ever between my home life as a wife and mother while still trying to be on my A game at my job is a daunting task (and I’ve only just finished week #2). It’s all about finding the balance, as I don’t have the energy to be Teacher of the Year 2013 and Mother of the Year, as much as I wish I did. I will never be one of those women who always looks immaculate, maintains an impossibly clean home, does an outstanding job at her career, keeps her marriage spicy, tends to her adorable, pink-cheeked children, and has energy left over for other noble endeavors such as volunteering, working out, and baking cookies.
Or maybe next year. Teacher of the Year 2014 has a nice ring to it, right?