being a teacher, energy, invest, students

Invest in Yourself

I am nothing special.  Just a teacher trying her hardest in making her students believe that they too can be something.  That they too can move mountains, change the world, be somebody.  A small quest but a meaningful one.  Some call me an idealist, others overly optimistic, but I think of myself as human.  I believe in those kids entrusted to me.  I believe in their passion, their desire to learn, their ability to learn.  I work too many hours, I wonder, think, digest their learning, their skills, their failures.  I take responsibility, I beat myself up if a lesson fails and I celebrate loudly with my students when they triumph.  I live life fully in my classroom, embracing all of the emotions of life, investing myself into my this classroom, making sure my students know the true Mrs. Ripp, warts and all. 

The reward is immense.  My students tell me about themselves.  They show me their work.  They trust me with themselves.  The setbacks are also big, though.  I can be on an emotional rollercoaster due to the mood of my classroom.  I can work too many hours and not get enough sleep.  I can obsess over lessons, obsess over a student’s situation that is out of my control, and I can beat myself up over not being good enough, there enough, just not being enough.  So last night my husband told me that I was working too much, missing out on moments with my 21 month old daughter.  And he is right.  With all the changes that have occurred in my classroom, this has been by far the most work I have ever put in for the first 7 weeks of school.  I am glad I have put in the hours, I am glad I have invested myself but the balance has been bumped somehow.  The balance of life and teacher has been tilted in the wrong way and I am feeling drained, listless, and just plain old tired.

So instead of complaining about it, I am realizing this is normal.  When you invest everything you have into your classroom, you sometimes forget to keep a little for yourself.  So while I do live for this job, for these kids, I also have to live my life.  I must allow myself to go home at the end of the day sometimes with no work to do.  I must allow myself to take the weekend off and not go into my classroom to do more.  I must allow myself to live, just as I hope my students do, when I do not assing them another worksheet.

To be the best teacher I can be, I must also be the best person I can be.  And that person needs her family more than anything else in the world.  Without time with my family, I lose my base, my sanity, and that affects everything else.  So this weekend I plan on going to the farm and picking a pumpkin with my daughter.  I plan on petting the goats, reading a book, and cooking dinner.  I plan on listening to my husband when he speaks and maybe even going grocery shopping.  And I will relish these ordinary life moments, come back renewed, rejuvenated and ready again to invest in my kids.  After all, they deserve the best me that I can be, and so do I. 

7 thoughts on “Invest in Yourself”

  1. Thoughts from years of life coaching:Highly creative people live in the chaotic design space between what's going on now and what they envision or want to happen. You will never achieve what you want–because you'll always up the ante. That's a good thing! You're learning to get comfortable in that space. Your students are so lucky. And your family is fortunate too.You're in the danger years for your marriage and your child is only little once. You're figuring it all out. Yay!Thanks for all that you do.Lynn@mathgirlgames.com

  2. Right on the money. Our work can be exhausting. The mental and emotional stress that we carry each day, trying to meet the needs of 30 to 200 students, is not something I would wish on anyone. On top of that we have growing families to care for as well. Something I learned this summer is that my family must always be first. As much as I truly do love and enjoy my job, its just that, a job. My family is all that I really have on this earth that is worth any real value. I cherish that and must make sure I care for it. I struggle not bringing work home, and being away for conferences or trainings, and letting my emotional baggage from work affect how I relate to and interact with my family. It will be a struggle I will always have, but it will be one that I must overcome each day.Thanks for he reminder to unwind, mentally and emotionally purge, and take time for "me."

  3. My professor once said, your students don't need a teacher whom was up until midnight planning the perfect lesson, they need a teacher who was out at the ballet, or a show.I constantly struggle with the balance. However, we cant let guilt rule our decisions.

  4. You have expressed my thoughts exactly! I have been wondering if I'm the only one who is feeling this way and you put it into clear concise statements.Thank you for writing this and I too will get out of my job mentality and live more with my family.

  5. I am going through the exact same thing. Just last night I went to spend time with my boyfriend who was planning to take me out, and I fell asleep on the couch and he had to go out alone! It really hurts me so much to know that I'm letting my job take over my personal life, but I just can't justify not putting in extra hours where there's a mountain of work to be done and I'm the only one there to do it. I'm loving your positive energy and gentle tone in your blog. I need to keep reading to bring myself back to a healthy place so I can be there fully for myself and my students.

  6. After writing this post, I have been amazed (and frightened) at how many people have responded to it. We are in a state of constant work as teachers, or many of us are anyway, and this post served as a reminder of just that. This weekend, I have not worked other than answering emails and planning for the week to come. I slowed down, read a book, listened to my husband's conversation and fed goats with my daughter. In short, I lived my life this weekend, and I feel that i will be a better teacher because of it. I am not delusional; I know the balance will get wonky again. But for now I feel it is at a healthy level of work and play. And I owe it to the people who care about me telling me to slow down and breathe. So that's what I am doing; breathing and loving it.

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