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One Teacher's Juggling Act

Dana Richliew

One Teacher's Juggling Act

 

Spare time? Sleep? What teachers knows what those are?

If you feel like your juggling skills are worthy of a Ringling Brothers Circus Act, you are not alone. I've been struggling to balance my life as a teacher with all my school, home, and family obligations while maintaining my sanity.

Between teaching full-time, going to graduate school part-time, spending time with my family and friends, and blogging, it is nearly impossible to keep up with it all. For me, the name of the game is prioritizing.

While I’m not an expert, I hope that this look into my life and how I juggle it all will help us all gain some perspective on the crazy life of a teacher.

Demands of Teaching

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If you are a teacher, have ever been one, or know someone who is a teacher, you are well aware of the work load and demand of the profession. I do not clock out at 5:00pm and leave everything at the office. I take some of the work home, which barely puts a dent in my workload.

There are tons of papers and projects to grade, centers and activities to create, academic contracts and ESOL modification plans to fill out…the list goes on and on. I have professional development before, during, and after school. I have several meetings to attend throughout the week and find very little “free time” to plan, grade papers, eat, or even go to the restroom. I have multiple parent conferences throughout the year to keep parents up-to-date on their children’s academic performance.

But above all this, I love my students. I would do all of these things ten times over if it meant success for them.

To juggle all of this, I remember one simple thing: It will all get done…just not today.

Teachers must find the balance between what is realistic and what is expected of them. Sometimes taking a deep breath, shutting down the computer, and locking the door on the way out in the afternoon is the best way to keep this balance and maintain your sanity.

Grad School & Continuing Ed

Not only do I have demands at work each week, but I also have demands from graduate school. Since the spring of 2007, I’ve been working on graduate degrees to further my education and better support my family. First, I received my Masters in Early Childhood. I am currently working on my Specialist degree and will graduate in December.

Between driving to classes that last until 8:30 at night, participating in group projects and presentations, conducting a research study accompanied by a thorough research paper, completing a 200-page portfolio, and multiple textbook and article readings, I find myself being stretched thin.  All of these things could seem like obstacles and could deter me from continuing my education. But I remember the purpose of graduate school and keep my drive and determination intact.

Like my demands from the classroom, graduate school work will get done…just not today.

Finding Time for Family

I am constantly amazed at my classmates that are parents themselves and must go home and take care of young children on top of everything else.

Even without children of my own, having so many demands during my week from work and graduate school can really take its toll on my family life. I find myself leaving home each morning before sunrise while everyone is still asleep and getting home after sunset some nights. If I’m not grading papers, creating activities, researching a particular topic, or finishing an assignment, I’m cleaning, doing laundry, cooking dinner, or some other household chore. I try to find time for date nights with my husband.

And my poor dog probably thinks I love my laptop more than her! I have to turn down different events with family and friends due to my workload or class schedule. I have come to the realization that my family, their happiness, and my own happiness is more important than anything else I’m involved in within my professional life.

So there again, I remember that all of my work will get done, but not at the expense of my family.

Making Time for Hobbies

Through all of the stress and demands, I have to find time for a hobby. I’ve tried Sudoku, sewing, gardening, and even bowling. But my number one hobby that I have an absolute passion for is blogging.

I am extremely dedicated to blogging about my teaching experiences and sharing ideas and resources with other educators. I love having such a large soundboard to bounce ideas off of and discuss difficult situations or decisions. I have found tremendous support in the blogging community and feel as though it is a positive and uplifting side to an often stressful career.

But with blogging comes the age-old issue of time consumption and addiction. This positivity and wealth of knowledge is extremely powerful. I am constantly wanting to share my ideas and activities while also reading about other’s ideas and activities and finding ways to implement them into my own classroom. This leads to more time away from my family. I found myself on my laptop more and more rather than having visits to the park with the dog, quality discussions, or playing quick games of Scrabble or UNO. Again, nothing in my life should come between my family and me.

Therefore I had to make some ground rules. I hold myself to limited computer time each night and on the weekends. Hobbies are necessary and important, but never more important than your own loved ones.

My life seems busier than ever and I’m thankful for everything I have. But one thing I have learned that is more important than anything I could ever accomplish at work, grad school, or on my blog: make time for those that are important and don’t lose sleep over things that are less significant.

It is my hope that everyone takes a moment to assess their priorities and demands they are juggling in order to make the most of their time.

 

How do you stay sane while performing the teacher juggling act? Share in the comments section!