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teacher identity crisis
Old 12-27-2009, 07:24 AM
 
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Anyone ever feel that they had a teacher identity crisis? I enjoyed my role as teacher, but it has been in this last year that I have really seen how much of my identity was based upon that/this role. How do you or how did you find balance when you see that so much of your identity now revolves around your role as teacher? My years in the classroom were/have been great, but looking back on the end of my life I hope that I live a balanced and full well rounded life. Need to find more balance this new year and new decade.Thanks!


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no balance here
Old 12-27-2009, 07:39 AM
 
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Despite professional help, I was unable to find that balance. Ultimately, it has led to my decision to leave the classroom at the end of this year. I am very at peace with my decision. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not good at turning myself off. I ate, slept, and breathed teaching for many years. I loved it until I realized I had no non-teaching friends or someone to share life with. I took time off, rekindled friendships, and found that special someone. But trying to go back to teaching and keep up those relationships is not possible for me. I am impressed with those with the drive and dedication to stay. Good luck finding your balance. But remember you are not a failure if you can't find a balance (I struggled mightily over that). It just means there's something else out there for you!
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Very consuming career
Old 12-27-2009, 07:39 AM
 
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Well I am a newer teacher (used to teach preK) yet I am shocked at how much of my time has been spent in the classroom and on teaching related planning & paperwork. (I was even dreaming about it my first day back when I woke this morning lol.) I love teaching. Yet, I also have 2 of my own children and I am thinking a lot about balance while on Christmas break. I care passionately about the needs of my students and my own children. Yet they are not in the same school system (in which I teach) and I sometimes feel like my own kids get my left-overs when I arrive home late and still have schoolwork to tend to. I have been dreaming about what teaching would be like if it was actually a 7-3 job...
I also am careful about what I wish for as I will likely be RIFed this year and I am NOT dreaming about unemployment! lol (I have also wondered if all careers are like this; are any really family friendly?)
I am sure seasoned teachers will respond more specifically to your op.
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Yes, balance is healthy!
Old 12-27-2009, 07:41 AM
 
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I've realized that I need to find a better balance amongst all my roles, and that being a teacher was tipping the scales a bit too much. I think the wake-up call was when a good friend of mine got a new principal that she isn't happy with, and it's affecting her entire life. That's not good. Teaching is such a huge part of my life, and it's certainly important work, but I can't let it outweigh being a wife, mother, friend, and daughter. Good reminder! Happy New Year.
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Anyone have any specific suggestions?
Old 12-27-2009, 08:13 AM
 
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I too would be interested in hearing how people achieve balance. I'm a teacher-in-training (career changer) with four kids, and in grad school. In recent weeks, as the time grows closer to file applications for next fall, I've begun to have second thoughts. How am I going to juggle everything at home with everything a teaching career demands? It doesn't help that I'm unemployed, which puts even more pressure on me to figure out how to do this. I find myself dreaming about piecing together subbing and other part-time jobs, or winning the lottery. Ha! Seriously, if anyone has specific ideas on how to achieve balance--which I interpret as keeping the job in check so that you can have an outside life too--I'd love to hear them. I'm beginning to doubt whether this is the right move...and I love working with kids...and I enjoy being in the classroom...


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a couple of suggestions...
Old 12-27-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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If you work on a team, see if you can divide the workload. For eg., one person plans science and the other soc.st., and you share plans.

Close your door when you need to get your work done- too much time can be used up by coworkers who just want to chat.

Set a time when you are going to leave, and start packing up 10 minutes before that. Make sure things are in order for the morning (papers run off, plans all set) in case you hit traffic or a child is sick.

You will need to check and hold students accountable for all HW assigned, but you don't need to grade and return every single sheet of paper (eg- if I send home a phonics pg., I look it over to make sure it's correct, but I don't always mark it and send it back home. I take them home and put them in my recycling. I only do this for worksheets on ocassion if papers are getting too backed up.)

See if you can plan one day where you can stay late (I like a Wed; or a Thurs.) and that will be the day where you get everything all set- lesson plans done, papers run off) for the following week.

First year teaching is very time-consuming because everything is new. I've been doing this (and loving it!) for 23 years, and I still struggle with balancing. There is always something to do in your classroom- I could be there 24/7 and never be done. The trick, for me, is to not get too far ahead of myself. I mess myself up by working on things that I don't need for awhile (for eg., by May I will have the next year's reading HW calendars printed and run off.) As long as I keep my neurotic tendencies in check, I'm good. I hope this was helpful. Teaching isn't easy, but, other than being a mom, it's the most rewarding work I've ever done. Welcome!
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If you stay late one night to work
Old 12-27-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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set aside another night for something else. Anything else! Church and dinner out? Take a class in something you would enjoy, you could be the student for a change. Start a dinner club with friends and rotate who is hosting. The only rule would be that whatever you do that night can have nothing to do with your job as a teacher. I must say that I do not practice this, but it sounds good, right?
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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Thanks for replying everyone. Teachfla your story is similar to mine. Always dreamed of being a teacher and when I achieved that goal after hard work it became life consuming. Trying to have a wider perspective on life going into this new year & new decade. Thanks again!
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Set a timer
Old 12-27-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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The other thing that I found helpful was I set a timer for say 30 minutes and when the timer went off I left whether I was done or not. Like PP suggested I stayed late one day (usually Thursday to plan and copy for next week) the other days I did the timer thing and made specific plans to get me out (whether it was run errands, go to the gym or just get home for the dogs).

As I have gotten more experience and found a routine that has worked for me I have found that I am better able to balance school and life. I still set aside "stay days" and still find myself setting my timer (before it was stolen) but all in all I am better able to manage myself.
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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I think that I have a good balance between teaching and other areas of my life.

I don't come in early (I need my sleep and I like to spend time with my son in the morning), and I never stay more than 15 minutes past my duty time (I can't because I have to pick my son up at daycare, so I suppose I'm forced to leave). I almost never bring work home, and on the rare occasion I have, it usually sits in my car or on my kitchen counter until I grab it the next morning and take it back to school.

You may be thinking that I'm a "slacker" or I don't do my job or my students aren't learning, etc...but it's the complete opposite!

Here are some things I do:

-Be organized (and this is something I have to work at!)

-Make a to-do list and stick to it. It always feels so good to cross things off my to-do list after I've accomplished them.

-Multi-task-I work hard while I'm at school. I'm not one to sit around and chat with my co-workers too often. That's not to say I don't enjoy being with them, I really do, but I know that I need to get home and want to get home at the end of the day.

-Do what matters. While I was student teaching, I worked with a teacher who told me, "AD, only do what matters for your students and their learning." Teachers do a lot of extras that don't really need to be done (in my opinion!). Here's an example-One of my grade level colleagues was stressing out over the last couple weeks of school before break because she had planned several projects-crafts, art, etc...for her students to do. It was a lot of prep work, and the kids were louder and more excited than normal. It was all really getting on her nerves. Yes, I did a couple projects, but that was it! I pretty much kept my schedule/routine as it was, and my students (first grade) never felt they were missing out or wondered why we didn't do "fun stuff" like the other classes. I'm sure they didn't even notice!

-Busy Work-I give no busy work. When I say busy work I mean worksheets and things that don't really need to be done. That's just more collecting and correcting than I'd care to do. Here's an example-instead of doing worksheets on a topic such as counting coins, we play partner games on coins and counting coins. All materials are set and ready to go, and the kids just take the materials they need.

-Homework-I give math homework because it's required, and honestly, if I don't have time to look at it, I throw it in the recycle bin. I do not grade homework based on performance, because some children receive help and some don't from parents so it's not a true assessment of what a child can or cannot do. When I do mark homework, it's just based on who has or hasn't handed it in. If I see a sheet with many errors, I will go over it briefly with the child.

-If someone comes in to talk to me in the morning or during my prep time, and it's not something that I need to sit and be completely focused on, I will usually say, "I'm listening to you, but do you mind if I keep doing _____?" (whatever it is I'm doing). Usually it's sorting something or straightening up. Something that I can do while I listen and talk with someone.

-Prioritize-do what absolutely needs to be done. Leave what doesn't need to be done right away, and then get to it when I get to it.

I'm not saying that I never feel overwhelmed, but I think I've been able to find a good balance. I also know that I'm the kind of person who could put way too much time into my classroom and then get burnt out. I enjoy teaching too much to allow that to happen.


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balance
Old 12-27-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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Finding a balance is hard, but it is also very important for my own sanity. I think one of the best things for me was to finally realize that I will never feel caught up and do everything I need to do. I could work an extra 2 hours a day from what I do now and still not do everything I can do. I let myself stay late one day a week and only about 30 extra minutes every other day of the week. One thing that helps me a lot is to do a lot of planning and organizing over summer vacation.
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:07 PM
 
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I agree with AD-I always have post-it notes with to-do lists (ranked in order of importance) and I use every minute of my prep time and morning time (contractually we have to be there 15 minutes early and I get there even earlier, but rarely stay more than 30 minutes late).

-I don't waste time and make only one trip to the office with everything I need to copy, etc. I have folders for "to be graded", "to be xeroxed". It's a small thing but a huge time saver

-I will probably get flamed for this one but I also work when kids are working. They don't need me to hover over them every minute of the day (and in fact, I shouldn't. Part of my job is to teach them to work independently) so, yes, I get things done when they're working.

-I almost NEVER take things home because like PP said, it usually just sits in the car (if I really have that much to do I plan to stay late).

-The timer thing has been a godsend for me because it gives me a set time to leave

-I set time aside to talk to colleagues and time to work. If colleagues come in to talk I will work while I am talking (as AD said)

-I don't work during lunch. That is my time to decompress, visit with colleagues and get out of my classroom. I eat in the teacher's lounge with other adults where I enjoy adult conversation. Most everyone who has lunch at this time eats togther (and everyone stops in at one time or another)-this also helps avoid cliques, provide a cohesive work environment and our building is one unit instead of separaate entities. We don't have the problems many people post about and I think it's because we eat in the teacher's lounge together!

I hope this helps.

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I am so glad that I went back and reread this
Old 12-27-2009, 08:03 PM
 
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This is my 18th year teaching, and I have just learned, again, from several of my PT friends! Thank you!

Morebalance, that is probably the only thing that I would add to the ideas from the others here. You did the right things in coming to PT and asking your question. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience on this site. I have learned so much from everyone on here.

AD mentioned multi-tasking works for her. I have been advised not to multi-task for other reasons, and this is true in all areas of my life -- school and home. I find that if I try to multi-task, I don't do as good a job as I thought, I tend to forget, and I get a case of "sensory overload" . Just keep in mind, it might work, but for some, it might be faster and better not to multi-task.
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You need to have an identity beyond teacher
Old 12-28-2009, 03:13 AM
 
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I didn't and now I wasn't recallled. The sadness and feelings of uselessness are huge. I'm growing my mom role ;yet feel incomplete. I am still hurt and angry at my situation and haven't found my peace. Please define yourself beyond your job. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone.

Hang in there. You are a person with unique interests and loved by many. Make that your identity before you end up where I am....trying to convince myself of my worth.
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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Thanks for replying. Your advice is greatly appreciated!
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Thanks GreyhoundGirl
Old 12-30-2009, 08:31 AM
 
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Quote:
The other thing that I found helpful was I set a timer for say 30 minutes and when the timer went off I left whether I was done or not.


I love the timer idea! I always set a time in my head when I will leave but I often look up at the clock and find 20-30 minutes have passed the time of the end of our required day. I really like going to the gym but if I stay at school too late then I just end up going home. I am going to use my timer and set it at the end of the 45 minutes we are required to stay after students leave and then head to the gym!

I do not bring things home with me during the work week(except our current class novel so I can read ahead and highlight vocab and write discussion questions in the book- usually done in bed as nighttime reading) since it all sits in the car. I hate homework and know exactly how the kids feel!
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balance
Old 12-31-2009, 06:39 AM
 
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Balance is very important and it's not just important for teachers. However we work with kids all day and kids need a person who is balanced to work with them. Regie Routman says it best in her books. She says that in order to build relationships with kids you need to share you life outside of school with them. So you need to have a life to share! When I get caught up in school I think to myself, "I need a life to share." It helps me to refocus. It really makes me stop and realize that I'm not only doing it for myself but for my students. I guess because I'm not just doing it for me I feel better about it.
I do some of the things that others mention such as staying late one night a week. I also go in early every day because then I don't miss out on family time as my husband gets the kids ready in the morning and I'd rather be home with them at night. I run three nights a week, once with a running group. I also go to the library every other Saturday so I always have books to read. I pick books that don't have to do with school! I only read professional books during the summer. I do read professional journals during the year but I only get a few of those. I also have recently picked people that I will not discuss work with at all. I think this has improved my relationships with them. I just got a tip from a coworker, she keeps a small rock in her pocket. She says it helps her to remember to do something for herself everyday. Maybe some type of visual reminder would help you? It is hard to maintain balance!
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