The prelude: Upon completing a master’s program in urban education, I was full of heart, soul, and anticipation.
Chapter 1: In August, I started teaching at a neighborhood school on the south side of Chicago. I quickly became engulfed by my new world, and I was much too distracted to even realize that that my oxygen levels may have been low.
Chapter 2: A month in I was not so smiley. Lots of tears. Lots of questioning. Not much breathing. Not much optimism.
Chapter 3: Fall break. The most brilliant scheduling creation ever. Timed right before some sort of tipping point. Lots of breathing. Lots of smiling. Lots of reflecting. Rejuvenation at its best. As the return to school approached, I realized that I needed some serious self-interventions. I became determined to smile and breathe more during the school day and after I closed the books for the night. Enjoying teaching wasn’t going to happen on its own, and the external factors making teaching so stressful weren’t going to change, so any sort of quality-of-life shift was in my hands.
Chapter 4: Return from fall break. Remind myself hundreds of times a day to shake some things off, smile when something deserves a smile, even laugh when something is funny. Think about building in more zen time during the day for my kids. I added choice time–aka recess in the classroom–into our daily schedule. Such a success. Think about building in more zen time during the day for me. I forced myself to eat at least part of my lunch during lunch. Excellent. Definitely build in more zen time at night. The Wire? Friday Night Lights? Both good choices. Leisurely dinners? A must.
Chapter 5: Amazingly, I’ve made it to winter break. Like fall break, it came at the perfect time. But it came at the perfect time not because I hadn’t dried my eyes in a while, but because I was simply tired from teaching. And I think that’s pretty darn natural.
So here I am. Stay tuned for plenty of stories as I continue to require myself to enjoy teaching.