This has been my M.O. as a teacher so far: An intense reactive perfectionist; Affectionate and enthusiastic, but easily blown off course and annoyed by the little things; Afraid of doing the right thing and standing up for what's right for fear that I might be hated or shunned by administration and colleagues; An idealist; A stress ball; A whiner.
Ok, so I'm simplifying and focusing more on my weakness rather than my strengths, but there's a reason for that. I have allowed myself to spiral into a situation at work where I am not only unhappy, but unhealthy.
I work as a middle school teacher in an inner-city school. There are a lot of us out there: people who love teaching but just can't seem to figure out how to thrive and stay positive in a profession that gets more and more demanding and stressful everyday. Last year I even went as far as to enroll in a demanding MSW program so that I could start all over again in a completely different career. I wanted to run away from it all. I felt too tired to keep doing the work (And I thought that adding 12 credits per semester would make me less tired? What the...?)
Then I sort of stumbled upon some excellent reading that was all about changing mind-sets, creating our lives instead of living reactively, and changing the how and not the what. I thought, maybe I'm just going about teaching the wrong way. Maybe I just need to change how I'm doing it instead of jumping in to a whole new career (which, by the way, would seem just as stressful, heavy, and exhausting if approached in the same crazed manner).
So I decided to do an experiment. I'm calling it 'The Responsibility Project'. I'm going to approach this coming academic year with a new intention: no more complaining, whining, or gossiping; Instead offer solutions, make requests, smile, have fun, be imperfect and learn from mistakes.
I expect this to be difficult at first. I have, after all, spent the last eight years of my teaching career teetering back and forth between moments of complete bliss and those of teeth-grinding, hair-pulling, face-melting frustration. There have been moments about which I still smile, and moments that make me cringe to remember (many involving my own goof-ups). I've developed a habit of, at times, pointing my finger at parents, administration, other teachers, even the kids. There is no point in doing that anymore (there never was!)...finger-pointing just drains me of essential mojo that I need in order to create what I'm sure can be a beautiful and rewarding career if I just open up to it and embrace the ups and downs instead of stomping my feet and running away every time things get difficult.
Join me on my journey, will you? And feel free to offer your advice and thoughts along the way.
Until next time!