being a teacher

i am sorry

This is a personal post.  I won’t be offended if you skip it.  But as always, this little tiny space on the internet, is my place for the thoughts I carry with me and the thoughts I have right now are about this tiny space and the role I play.

Two weeks ago, I was working from home, probably checking email, Twitter, Facebook, or something else that required me to focus on my screen.  My kids were home, doing something, and Oskar, my five-year-old,  walked up to me and said, “Mom, you work a lot.” He then walked away.

For the past two weeks, these words have hit me hard, because he is right. I work a lot. I work all the time.  I work early in the morning, in the car when my husband is driving, late at night after my kids go to bed.   When I check social media, my mood changes.  I withdraw from my family.  I let the words of strangers affect my family as I get caught up in emotions I don’t need to have.  I have lost count of how many times I have had to catch my husband up on something that happened on social media which is now pulling me away from my family.  And if I am not working, I am thinking about work. About everything  I need to take care of online, the comments, the tweets, the posts, the little stuff that comes with doing the work that I have chosen to do.  Not my full-time teaching job, but my self-chosen extra work that has brought me into the lives of many others.

And while I am honored beyond words that anyone chooses to spend any time with any of my words, my ideas, or my projects, I also have no balance.  I have high blood pressure.  I have started having panic attacks.  In fact, I had one earlier today started by an email.

Before all of this, this blog being read by others, this living in a very small public eye, I never had panic attacks.  I didn’t fully understand what it meant to feel like you have disappointed strangers.  I didn’t fully understand what it feels like to be seen as someone who had all of the right answers, or to be seen as someone who should just learn to keep her mouth shut. I never brought my computer with me on vacation.  I didn’t need unlimited data just to keep up with all of the notifications, wants, questions and needs that pile up.  I didn’t look at my to be read shelf as work.

I knew what it meant to be just Pernille, a goofy, introverted, yet outspoken woman who loved her life with all of her heart.   Not Pernille Ripp who somehow has become someone I can’t live up to be.

Last week, I was supposed to speak at ISTE alongside some fantastic colleagues.  I was excited, yet nervous.  Once I got to ISTE though, I was overwhelmed, and not in a good way.  There was personal stuff going on at home, I was not feeling well healthwise, and the panic started to creep in.  How could I possibly live up to people’s expectations when I felt this awful? Then other stuff happened and I made the decision to go home. While it was the only decision I could make personally, it meant that I let others down.  That I broke a professional promise.  I never do this and yet I did it this time.  If you are one of the ones that I let down by not being there, I am so sorry.  If you waited in line, I am so sorry.  If you are one of the ones affected by my decision, I am so sorry.  I hope to make it up to everyone somehow.

But it speaks to my larger reality right now; my priorities are screwed up. I work too much.  I worry too much.  I give too much of myself to have enough left at the end of the day.  And it is only getting worse.  My doctor is telling me to stop and my kids are reminding me to listen.

So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available.  To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily.  That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.

I find so much joy in the work that I get to do with kids, with adults, and I don’t want to lose that.  I want to reclaim the joy.  The experimentation. The carefree.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while, I hope it is ok.  If I don’t take care of your question for a while, I hope it is ok.  I will still be out there, sometimes on the road, sometimes behind my screen, but I can’t keep this up.  I don’t want to keep this up.

Take care of yourself, it is time for me to do the same.





195 thoughts on “i am sorry”

  1. Good for you! Your health and your family should absolutely come first. I’ve often wondered, as a mom and a teacher myself, how you manage to do as much as you do – if you somehow found some hours in the day that were hidden away or something! Truthfully, you doing less actually makes me feel better about not being able to do as much as you do! But, really, please just take care of yourself and your family.

  2. You are doing the right thing! You are an amazing giver. You tenaciously give your time and talent to all that you do. You are not only trying to alter the course of your students’ learning experiences, but also affect change in classrooms around the world. This is a big task, and you cannot continue to be effective if you don’t take time for refilling your own cup. Take a break, enjoy some summer, and put some practices of renewal in place as you move forward. I have continually been inspired by you, and this boundary setting that you are implementing is another example of inspiring greatness in you.

  3. Hi Pernille
    You and I met at ICE in Illinois a few years ago (jimmy was my colleague at the time). First, I am so proud of you for not only taking a step back but for being willing to be vulnerable enough to state publicly why you are doing so. You have much to offer and people have benefitted from your commitment and generosity but it has come at a price. Not a permanent price though so please do not be hard on yourself. The resiliency of children is mind numbing. Fortunately, they take into account their entire life experience with their mother and not just snippets. Please don’t waste time on guilt; and not an ounce of time on shame for heavens sake. You are a young mother with a beautiful family and immeasurable professional skills. You just don’t have to use them all at the same time. You will have more time to write, speak and help other professionals. Right now your body and your heart are raising internal sirens and you are right to listen. Motherhood is complicated, stressful and the most extraordinary experience in my life. I, too, have made an intentional decision to use my skills at another time in my life. I won’t ever get the time with my kids back and they are going to be adults for a lot more years than they will be children. While they are auditing, I can write and speak….or not. It’s my choice. You are smart, insightful, compassionate and sensitive – tremendous qualities that you have and will continue to model to your children and the larger world…when the time is right for you. At the end of every day I ask myself 4 questions. Am I joyful? Am I thankful? Am I hopeful? Am I peaceful? There are days I’m 4/4. There are other days I have the wrong kind of triceca going and I am only 1 for ;. It’s just a good way for me to check myself and get a barometer on where I am with my feelings, emotions and decisions. Please let me know if I can support you in any way. In the mean time, I wish you joy, gratitude, hope and peace. ~ Joy

  4. I accidentally hit post before proofing – sorry!
    …While they are adulting ^
    …and I am only 1 for 4 ^

  5. All the best Pernille, please take care of you and trust in the Lord. I will keep you in my prayers. Remember you are enough just be yourself, Margie

  6. Dear Pernille, No apologies! We need to step back to step forward. Take Care and Happy Summer with your family

  7. I have wondered for a while how you manage everything and still have a life and family. I completely understand your need to take a step back. Kids grow up too quickly and marriages need nurturing. “Just” being a full-time teacher is exhausting. I have loved your blogs and both your books…they have reinforced my beliefs in teaching reading and have pushed me to try new things. Take care of you.

  8. From someone who has taught 35 years and who adores you and your work, take care of yourself and your family. You have made an invaluable contribution to literacy in America, even if you never wrote another word, you have done beautiful work. I will keep you in my prayers. You are one special young lady!!’

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Thank goodness you have listened. I love reading your thoughts but not at the price you have been paying. As my lovely mother-in-law taught me: family is what really matters 😊

  10. You are inspirational and remind me that I too, need to listen to my family, my heart, my body!! Thank you for the reminder, and for taking time to reclaim yourself! I too, will do the same! xoxo

  11. A wise professor once told us that family life is short and careers are very, very long. Take a break, enjoy your children. You are being a role model to all of us by doing it. Thank you for being so brave.

  12. Pernille, there is not shame in taking care of yourself. That is the ultimate wisdom. Balance is tricky for all of us but especially for parents. I enjoy my work too, but have had to set limits around it so the most important relationships in my life do not suffer. Sometimes it is a matter of seasons, I think (a Liz Gilbert idea). You may be entering a season when you need more rest. Best regards. You never need to apologize for taking this time.

  13. By stepping back you continue to be a model for many. Your honesty continues to inspire. Take good care and enjoy your family.

  14. I have enjoyed each and every essay you’ve written, the book recommendations you’ve shared, and the care you take … you have a beautiful soul. It’s time to enjoy your family and friends and your teaching, knowing that you’ve helped many others with what you’ve already shared. Take good care.

  15. Listen to your children, your husband, and your doctors. We will get by without a summer of blogs and speeches.

  16. Take care of yourself and enjoy your family. They grow up and away too quickly. You are a giving person, and there are not enough hours in the day. Family and health should always come first.

  17. Seeking balance between family and work is a neverending struggle. What often gets lost is our own wellness. My breaking point this spring was when my five year old made a computer out of paper, sat next to me at mt desk and asked if she could help me do my work so I would be done faster. Our “littles” are so wise. Be well Pernille- and thank you 🙂

  18. Amen, Sister! I have been amazed and inspired by your work but have wondered both privately and aloud about how you find the time and energy to do it all. You make me tired just thinking about your schedule! Relax, enjoy your family! Life—and summer—are both too short!

  19. Isn’t it amazing how God speaks so loudly through the voices of children? We love you and your passion Pernille. We are all in this together, so any help you need with GRA or any other project please reach out. So many of us have benefited from your work, please give us the opportunity to pay you back.

  20. Deane Gidlund, Ed.D. 8th grade ELA Teacher English Language Arts Department Head ________________________________

  21. Do not feel guilty for choosing your priorities. That is real courage in a world which substitutes social media for the real struggle of. relationships. Marriage and family are hard; genuine time is needed. Do not be sorry.

  22. Please do this. You deserve a life of joy with your family. Your body knows what you need. Give your mind and attention to your family and your students. We love you, but they love and need you more!

  23. Rest and enjoy and rejuvenate, Pernille! Enjoy your wonderful family (even more). I have often glanced over the lid of a laptop to see my children playing and questioned my intentions and my decisions. It is a terrible feeling and no one should have to feel as though they’re being pulled in too many directions. Don’t ever feel as though you need to apologize for commitment to self and family first!

  24. Don’t apologize for putting your family first! If you don’t find the balance you will lose yourself! Take care!

  25. Please take care of yourself. I am much older than you and wish I had had the foresight to do exactly what you are doing. I value your words more than you know, and am certain that they will still come but all in good time. Focus on what’s most important! Sending you lots of good vibes from Texas!

  26. Pernille, you are great at a lot of things. But you’re HUMAN. You don’t have to apologize to anyone for this. You have given of yourself, tirelessly and relentlessly, in the hopes that children everyone have a stronger literate life. It’s ok to take a break and let others pick up the baton in this marathon. Because that’s what this calling is, a marathon, not a sprint.

    In March of 2017, I suffered my first Vertigo attack. My Vertigo is not caused by inner ear problems, but by stress. Coupled with Vertigo, my blood pressure began to climb. One day on campus I was not feeling well and went to my school’s nurse. After taking my pressure, I was immediately taken to urgent care. My blood pressure was so high, I was in danger of having a stroke. Mind you, I’m only 43.

    I say all this because I am guilty of the same transgressions you mentioned. This education “calling” can become so consuming that we can forget to take care of ourselves. Therefore, we share our knowledge and passion with others and when we need to take a break, we trust that they carry on for us. Until we can pick up the baton again… Love in literacy, Traci.

  27. Wow! I have little doubt this post will go viral and the sad thing is you won’t read any of these comments for a long time if you really DO stick to your promise to yourself. But you have touched a nerve with hundreds of thousands of educators and support staff all around the global. THIS really is the biggest issue in education right now and you have stumbled upon it in your discovery of of some long time introspection that you finally acted upon. I don’t envy you in a way, as this post is going to endear you to so many and they will wanting to read your every word and that will pull the “worker” out in you again. Oh, how to find that balance!! You are so very precious to everyone around you. I know you will find it. I’ll gently leave Proverbs 3:5-6 here if you care to look it up. It has helped me so many times.

  28. I have so enjoyed your Blog posts as a teacher librarian… but balance is something that all of us need. The reminder from those little people at your home are usually honest. Step back, we will all make it and so will you.

  29. Good for you! Seriously. My daughter graduated from high school this year, and one of the things that troubled me was what I missed, while I was trying so hard to be the best teacher I could be. Enjoy your summer!!!! Enjoy your sweet children!

  30. Family comes first! Rest and take care of yourself and enjoy your summer. It takes courage to be little!

  31. I am so proud of you!!! This post is the reality of teachers and I’m thankful to have met you at CCIRA! Now, go bug your kids and take joy from every family moment you can! ❤️

  32. You must take care of yourself, first and foremost, and enjoy your family time. The rest is unimportant in comparison! Take care, rest and rejuvenate.

  33. First: I hope you’re not reading this. I hope you’re truly offline, resting, and reconnecting with what’s really most important. Second: I can TOTALLY relate to this and I’m not nearly as connected and engaged as you are! But I share that experience of being overwhelmed, guilty, fearful and even the panic attacks. I can’t tell you how often my husband told me to “save some of Sylvia for the evening”– and that was BEFORE social media! So…. you just have to reshuffle, restart, and keep on. People WILL be disappointed. Oh well. But your family won’t be. We just have to deal with the disappointment along with the accolades. Try to take the long view and imagine yourself at age 80 and what will have meant the most to you– the lives you’ve touched as an educator, yes, of course, but the people who love you most (your family and close friends) need ALL of you SOME of the time! Hang in there!

  34. Please take care of yourself! Thank you for all you do to inspire others and for sharing. It is important to remember we all need to rest and it’s okay to tale a break find an outlet to reduce stress and it’s okay to let things go and evaluate our priorities. Take care and be well.

  35. Thank you for sharing your heart with the world. We love you and completely understand where you are. Many blessings to you and your precious family.

  36. I respect you and admire you. You have great strength to do what is right for you and your family.

  37. This post moved me to tears. Your honest, earnest feelings are relatable for so many of us teacher/moms. It saddens me that the good you are doing for education has come at such a high cost to you. PLEASE do not apologize for letting any of us down. Be empowered that you are putting yourself and your family first. Yet again, you are leading by example and teaching us powerful lessons. Time is short and kids grow up too fast. There’s no U in PRIORITY (but there are two Is). Your needs must come before ours. Be well, Pernille ❤️

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