As much as I loved Term 1, I cannot tell you how happy I am it is the holidays – the emotional labour that comes along with teaching is incredibly taxing. Although I know many jobs (including motherhood) take its toll, I really feel ‘Teacher Tired’ it is a feeling only a teacher will truly know.
Teaching is like juggling a million balls – eventually you’re gonna drop a few balls (it’s inevitable!!) The trick lies in how you react when you see those balls roll around the floor at your feet. Do you stop what you are doing to pick them up (while berating yourself for not being good enough and hitting yourself with the shame stick?), or do you let them roll around on the floor, with the understanding you are not in fact perfect and there will be times where it is simply impossible for all the balls to stay in the air? (does anyone remember the ball pit at Georgie Pie? We never seemed to mind the balls on the floor then….)
Can I be a little bit honest?? (this might be an unpopular opinion) I have seen a million and one Instagram posts over the last week or so where teachers are urged to rest and recover over the holidays – ummmm…??? the rest bit I get, but recover??? **hear me out**
I hate that the narrative around teaching where we are told “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” were we have to ‘race’ through the term, yet ‘pace’ ourselves while we are expected to give everything we possibly have to our job, until we are curled up in the recovery position at the ‘finish line’.
It’s not sustainable (trust me, I tried for 10 years..), and the balls I tried to juggle just kept getting bigger, heavier and harder to control. We really need to push against this narrative… We need to give a lot to our job, yes this is true – but we do not (and should not) give so much to our job that we need to lock ourselves away in a dark room for two weeks while we recover from our job – last time I checked, teaching is not a medical condition (but it can lead to one: *burnout*) so maybe we are going about it a bit wrong.
Here’s my advice (are you ready???)
Try do a bit less next term …
and yes, I can hear you saying, “Buuuttttt Aimee… I cannot … everything I do is **SO** important!”
So I want to challenge you to leave some of those balls on the floor… let them roll around while you juggle a little less and see what happens (I can almost promise you that your classroom won’t burn down… annnnnd, your students will still learn!)
Here is a journaling question for you:
WHAT CAN I DROP???
Let your mind go wild, brainstorm it out, then choose one thing that is not *essential* (like a Pinterest worthy classroom or even that irritation you’re holding onto about your principal or *that* kid’s parents).
So while I will be resting these holidays, I will not be in my metaphorical hospital bed recovering from teaching. I’ll be rolling those dropped balls out the door (good freakin’ riddens!) and enjoying the slow mornings the holidays bring.
I wasn’t always like this – if you have been following me for a while, you will know how burnouts, perfectionism and a pretty shitty headspace impacted me and how I showed up in my classroom. Instead of continuing to blame my circumstances and the wildly toxic culture of education, I learned to look after myself and treat my job as job, and not my entire life…
If you’re struggling right now and feel like you’re curled up in that metaphorical hospital bed in the recovery position, I trust that my transformation will give you hope. This time last year I was sobbing in the shower, desperate for a way out of teaching; now, I’m happily watching all those dropped balls roll along on the floor and I am thriving in all aspects of my life – including the classroom!
Send me an email if you need help (I’ve got some time up my sleeve!) firstname.lastname@example.org, or better yet, book in for my reflection class. 10am each Wednesday of the holidays, over zoom. 60 minutes to decompress, reflect and engage with other teachers around NZ. Just email me your interest.
Have a wonderful holiday!
All my love,
I wrote a book… have you read it?
Follow me on my journey as I unpack why I was burning out all the time in the classroom.
Cracked Open: a teacher’s battle with perfection is a must read for teachers & women who battle with perfectionism, negative self talk and burnout – use the code schoolholiday for $10 off