Last school year, I took on a major change to my work schedule. I was asked to move my classroom and begin teaching an advanced course in Biology. The school’s test scores were low and they needed a set of fresh eyes.
Contrary to popular teacher clichés, I immediately got to work. I spent the entire summer moving my classroom. It was hectic – the room hadn’t been cleaned since the 1980s. I know this because I found grocery bags in the rafters with the dates to prove it!
The AP curriculum was a constant struggle from day one until the collegeboard exam. I held after school review sessions, planned field trips, held parent orientations, and worked STEM summer camps for no additional pay. I spent countless hours preparing lectures, creating lesson plans, setting up labs, and pulling all-nighters to grade lab journals. For those of you who are teachers – it was like my FIRST dreadful year of teaching all over again. Only this time I was swamped with responsibilities – a husband, two children, and another on the way. It was beyond exhausting but I was steadfast that failure was not an option. I poured my heart and soul into my work. The saying “blood, sweat, and tears” wasn’t lost on me for a single day.
When the scores came in – the kids nailed it. We went from a 40% passing rate to 80%. It was the highest our school earned on an AP Biology test in the past decade.
I received a call from my supervisor the other day. I’ve been out on maternity leave for the past 5 months while another teacher filled the position for the year. She proceeded to tell me that despite my scores and abilities – they’ve decided to keep the other teacher in the position permanently. The decision was purely – school politics – at its finest hour.
Part of me was instantly relieved – one less ball to juggle – but rejection always stings.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths. There is a lesson to be learned here.
Moving Forward – Strike a Balance:
I get it. Whether you’re taking on more at work to kiss a little ass, meet a deadline, or you’re looking for a promotion – there are times that work can get the best of us. But moving forward – my goal is going to be to strive towards a better balance. How am I going to do that?
- Establish Boundaries: At the end of the day, I hope some of the students appreciated my efforts, but it’s clear that isn’t always the case for our superiors. It’s time for some boundaries. My advice to anyone in this situation is to make the most of your work day. Instead of taking extra time out at lunch with your co-workers or straying to social media – WORK when you’re AT WORK to lessen the chances that you’ll have to take anything home. Get done what you can & remember that tomorrow is another day. If you do have to take work home? Make a rule for yourself – no work on the weekends, no work phones at dinner, or no working past 9 pm – and stick to it.
- Learn to say NO – quality vs. quantity: You cannot do it all and do it all well. Stop feeling obligated to please everyone else by saying yes. People will respect you for standing up for yourself and knowing your own limits. Stick to a few tasks or projects that you can manage and complete with full attention & focus. The thinner you stretch yourself – the less quality you’ll be able to give to your work.
- Take care of you & yours. As a mom – your needs are the most overlooked. We are all guilty of constantly putting ourselves last. How can we care for our families if we aren’t healthy? Self care looks different for all of us so think about what you need & prioritize it. Whether that’s eating healthier, starting a hobby, exercising, or reading – your children are watching you – so lead and model by example.
I’ve learned that while I love my students, my own kids have to be my #1. If I don’t put them first, who will? My kids need their mom. I want to enjoy my nights and weekends with this little family that I’ve created, because they’ll only be little once. One day – way too soon – I will have more than enough time available to work & move mountains. And while I don’t have the luxury of attending every one of their class parties – I will vow to make AT LEAST one per year. Just as you, my dear reader, might not be able to make every soccer practice – vow to your kids to never miss a single game of the season.
The Lesson Learned:
Remember, you won’t be able to control the outcome of every situation in life. Work will hold many measurable successes and disappointments, but you can feel better knowing that you’re in control of your own boundaries and priorities. At the end of the road, you’re greatest story & legacy in life will be the immeasurable love and joy that you’ve shared with those special little people in your life.