September 11, 2013

A letter from a reader....

I had a sweet email written from a wonderful reader, Terry, a few weeks ago. 
It came at such a perfect time and I thought many of you would like to read it as well.  I asked her if I could share it with you all, since many of you are also teacher-moms!

So thanks again for the sweet email, Terry.  I really appreciate your support and advice.

 Hi Mandy,

 I am Terry from Helena, Montana.  I will be starting my 29th year of 
teaching tomorrow.  I teach 2nd grade.  I taught 1st for 13 years and K for 6 
years and other grades in-between.  I have been reading your blog for awhile 
since you started sharing about having twins.  I love all of your sharing.  I 
am not a member of pinterest as I just google it and of course love it, but I 
am not into pinning…..yet!

 I just wanted to reply to your venting since I didn't see this comment for 
you.  I sure feel for you, but the best advice we should all give you is to 
stop" and take a breath.  One of the things all teachers do is make sure 
everything is "perfect" for the students.  Then we go home and make sure 
everything is "perfect" there!  It is easy to go overboard and spend all of 
our time doing and thinking school.  In fact, teaching was not only a job it 
was also my hobby.  Now more than ever there are so many cool things out 
there because of pinterest and TPT.  We could all go crazy!
>Now that I am older, I tend to see many of my past students.  It is shocking 
when they tell me they are 30……...YIKES!  (I am 52 but still think I am 35!)  

Some of these students don't even remember me, but I remember them.  I 
remember busting my butt by coming up with ideas night and day and weekends 
and I liked doing it!  !  I realized after seeing these students that they 
would have made it no matter what I did.  There is a place (and a job) for 
everyone.  So, me working night and day and weekends didn't change their 
future.  I was just so committed to teaching (like we all are) that I gave up 
so much of my "personal" time in order to make a "difference"!

 What I realized (and this shocked me) was the time I spent on those students 
and my classroom making it beautiful (when the student didn't remember me or 
my cool bulletin boards)….instead of being with my own two children.   My 
boys are now 25 and 16.  What I finally realized a few years ago when our 
district started common core and other additional requirements was that I had 
to have a balance.  It is SOOOOOO easy for school districts/personnel/us to 
think and require teaching to be a 24/7 job.  We let that happen.  I finally 
had to set my time I wanted to arrive/leave.  The most important change I 
made was to leave "school work" at "school" and when I was home, I had to 
mentally/physically be "home"!   No more mixing the two!  At first I way 
dying, because I would have some time at home and thought I could have 
brought something home, but instead I learned to exercise, go for a walk, 
call a friend… something for me!  I had to stop
 thinking that my classroom had to look like pictures on pinterest.  I had to 
write a list of all that I would do at home and school.  Then I had to 
prioritize what was taking all of my time and if it 
was making a difference 
in the students' learning or at home with my family.  If it didn't help them learn or help at home, then I stopped doing it.  I found that I was doing a 
lot just because I liked it…..things that the students didn't even notice or 
my children/husband didn't notice.  In other words, I had to let go!

 Oh, and about moving to a new school.  I changed to a new school after 
teaching at one for 22 years.  The first two weeks I went to my car at lunch 
and cried.  I thought a change would be good for me…..URG!!!   I had special 
reading training and new teachers needed some help, so I changed schools.  It 
did get better, but it does take time.  I had to quit comparing myself to 
those other "younger" teachers.  

 So, Mandy…….get a balance for your, your home and your school.  Don't mix 
school and home.  Make sure you have time for yourself… sure deserve one 
of those "calgon take me away baths"!  Remember we can't fix every student, 
so do your best at school and put your main efforts at home as your own 
children will be there with you for only a short time. 
Can't help when it comes to getting those "your child is sick" 
calls……URG!!!  I remember those days… husband and I would switch off 
 You are such a sweet person.  Try to let some things go and it will all come 
together.  When you don't feel stress, add something back if you 
want…..however, you will realize that going home with nothing else to do 
except be with your family is awful nice.  We are the ones that are adding 
the stress………Let go!  


jrhimath said...

Terry is a wise woman!!

jrhimath said...

Terry is a wise woman!!

Lea said...

What a tremendous comment and full of such truth from someone who has "been there and done that." Hoping you are finding that perfect balance. Blessings!

Jacana28 said...

I really needed to read this today. Prior to having my daughter, I did "school" 24/7. I would go early and come home late. I would spend nights and weekends there. Once I went back after my daughter was born, it was so hard to balance it all! Being a full time teacher and full time mom is a challenge. In fact, I think I barely saw my daughter and husband for that whole year. As luck would have it, I was able to go part time this year (But as we know teaching is never really part time) and I was able to set boundaries for myself. When I am home, I am home and when I am at school, I am at school. My part time schedule allows me to get all my work done at school so I can go home and be mommy. I am so grateful for this opportunity and for the family members that are making it possible! I love spending the extra time with my daughter and husband. I don't feel as stressed and feel much better physically and emotionally. I love teaching and I love my students...but in a year or so, those students won't need me and probably won't even remember what we did in my class. My daughter (and any other children we have) will need me year after year and I need to be there for her. I feel like all of a sudden I blinked and she is almost 2. Thank you for this post!

Gina said...

What truth Terry speaks! I enjoyed reading this. I'm mentally struggling with upcoming maternity leave and making sure my classroom is "perfect" for the long term sub. I'm absolutely ecstatic to soon meet my baby, but need to let things go as Terry suggested! <3

teacherof1st said...

Thank you Terry for sharing the words of wisdom with Mandy and all of us. I needed this reminder more than I thought!