Since today was the first day of school-based professional development (my district gives us eight work days before the school year officially kicks off), I have successfully navigated the following tabs: [TL:DR Summary: a ton of stuff.
Now scroll past the bullets for the commentary.]
- waking up by 7:00 AM and making a pot of coffee for the first time since June.
- reconnecting with the teacher friends I have only kept in contact with via Facebook over the summer
- presented a sort of “teaser trailer” for our school’s new Writing Center
- guiding my protege through the introductions to her new department (we’re an overwhelming bunch)
- hurrying through a department lunch (no one should have to eat such a delicious salad that quickly!
- making last-minute, real time additions to our PBIS staff presentation to show the results of a faculty survey
- providing an assist when a powerpoint lost its “power”
- successfully renegotiating room placements and schedules for my protege and I (it’s a long story I’m not getting into just now.)
- discussed new tier one testing with the ninth grade team leader
- attended an after school meeting with the Greater Washington Reading Council to plan for the new year.
Did you follow the TL:DR instructions? Good. I mean, really, all teachers have a list like this at the beginning off the year. We’re all overachievers and worriers. Oh, did I forget to mention that WORRY was all over the place?
I do most of my work with a “can-do” attitude, or at least I try to, but underneath that is WILD anxiety. I have almost as many terrified lows as I do excited highs in these first days of school and, if I’m honest, that cycle continues through the school year.I have a medically diagnosed anxiety disorder, and sometimes that makes teaching and leading a real challenge. I’m not going to make a laundry list of worries, because that feels like whining, and whining is hardly ever productive.
Here’s where I get to my point: the #dontpanic message. It’s okay to have mini-breakdowns. It is okay to retreat to the bathroom or close your classroom door and cry or ball up your fists in frustration. Its even okay to smile and say, “Yeah, I can make that work,” while on the inside you have absolutely no idea how or if you can make that work.
A career in teaching is HARD, because you constantly have to deal with new challenges, the so-called “tabs” I’m referring to. Don’t minimize those challenges: you are an absolute BEAST for even looking them in the eye!
Be resilient. Savor the little accomplishments (see my bulleted list above) and put aside the things you can’t control or deal with quite yet. Take care of yourself so that you don’t burn out by the end of September. Make time for YOU and the things you love (I specifically made time to blog tonight because I wanted to do something I love). And above all, have friends and colleagues who can empathize, pat you on the back, or pick you back when you can’t do it yourself (and who can move the heavy class furniture for you).