It’s time to stop the teacher guilt, indeed. It’s time to stop putting my life on hold until the next break. It’s time to stop feeling obligated to put in all those extra hours because that’s what teachers do.
We have a choice.
For me, it’s time to start limiting my work hours to 40 per week. It’s time to start realizing that I am still an effective teacher when I do this. It’s time to start prioritizing my family and my physical and mental health over my job.
I still love teaching, and I find that I have even more energy to put into it when I’m not exhausted from working so many hours. My working conditions are my students’ learning conditions. My students deserve a teacher with a balanced life who’s happy to be in the classroom every day.
Last night, ugliness again crept into the Twittersphere, it seems. This time, some terrible, spurious claims were made against John Green. I’m not going to link to the comments here. No doubt, you can Google them. But they were hateful enough and awful enough and WRONG enough that I felt compelled to say something this morning.
This has become, sadly, a familiar scenario where social media is concerned. There’s so much that’s terrific about the Internet: It can provide context and community. It can give visibility to those who have been marginalized. It can be an agent of social change. It can be a place for innovation and discovery. It can help kids sorting out their identities feel validated. All of this is amazing stuff.
But the Internet can also be a very ugly place, the equivalent of the worst middle school cafeteria ever—everybody camped at their tables waiting for…
I was trapped in the chair at the dentist’s office, with the flattering spittle blocking glasses on and a glorified grown-up bib strapped to my chest having my teeth cleaned. The hygienist and I were having an extremely convenient conversation about my job while both of her hands were somehow inside my mouth along with three metal stabbing tools, when she threw out the comment that I hear all the time.
“Well at least in your job you get your summers off.”
Because my mouth was full, I was already drooling down my chin, and it was only 7am, I didn’t reply. She’s lucky I didn’t bite her fingers.
There are a lot of reasons that statement irritates me. Having the summers off is awesome, I’m not going to lie. However, before you make teachers out to be the luckiest professionals in the country, hear me out. It’s not all it’s…
I still get excited and a little nervous meeting my new fourth grade students. I love connecting with my them and having a positive role in their lives. That being said, there are some promises I try to make to my students but can never keep…
“autonomy, mastery and purpose are what motivate 21st century workers”
Interesting and highly relevant point! I am fortunate enough to have these things in my current teaching job, but I don’t know how long I’d last without them.
My column appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday, September 16. Here’s the link, but since it’s behind the paywall, I’m pasting it below. http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/stevenson-get-ready-for-the-great-teacher-exodus/nhM5M/
Stevenson: Get ready for the great teacher exodus
By Sara Stevenson – Special to the American-Statesman
If teachers are the most important school factor in student achievement, how do our current policies and national conversation help us to grow and retain better teachers? Tenured Stanford University professor Eric Hanushek wants us to fire “bad teachers,” but we should worry more about keeping the good ones. This year my public middle school lost a wave of talent.
To those, such as Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, who believe that experience doesn’t matter, why are our new teachers cautioned, before Back to School Night, not to tell the parents they’re a first-year teacher? Studies cited in Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” show that first-year teachers underperform experienced…
Teaching is among the professions that consume one’s mind and soul. Even when we’re up-to-date on grading (hey, it could happen!), we spend personal time and energy researching, planning, and finding new ways to reach students. Random lightning strikes of inspiration hit us when we least expect them. (Great ideas in the shower, anyone? Yeah, I thought so.) There is always more to do, and with 30 students who will never have another chance to be in fifth grade, it’s hard to know when to say “I’ve done enough for today.”
I also need to block out time in my calendar for my own pursuits. This may sound selfish. It feels selfish. But I think it will help me take better control of my time and (I hope) not feel so overwhelmed by everything I have to do. Continue reading →