Do Teachers Take Time for Themselves?

Typically no. Not hardly, if ever. Nope.  Teachers are wired to care for others first.  That doesn't mean that we are all completely selfless wonders. We are human. But teachers have an instinct that calls them to be nurturing, considerate, thoughtful, caring, forgiving individuals. At least until it comes to themselves. Who is a teacher's worst enemy? Herself.

Kids and parents may disagree, but a teacher will usually go out of their way to make sure that they have done their best.  A child that is disciplined will not think so much of that statement, but it is true. I'm sure I spent more sleepless nights worrying over kids that I had corrected than they did worrying about their behavior.  I spent hours trying to figure out ways to reach them where they were and help them.  I wasn't so worried about my health or lack of sleep. All that mattered was how could I turn things around for the student.

I can't even count how many late night emails or week-end phone calls or after school conferences I've written, made, and attended. Long after my work day officially ended, I was contacting parents. For anyone who thinks a teacher's day ends at 3:30 they are wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Never does it end when the kids leave. That is when the second phase begins.  Planning, parent contacts, meetings, collaboration time, conferences.  For the parent that thinks that all a teacher cares about is getting out to the parking lot, jumping in their car, and heading home, think again. That is not the case. If we're in a parking lot right after school it is because we are heading to a meeting across town or a night class.

And then there's summer. Teachers and summer are the butt of numerous jokes. Just a word to the wise... teachers don't find them amusing. And, no, we're not laying by the pool sipping on lemonade. We're spending quality time with our families, planning lessons, purchasing materials for our classroom, writing lessons, printing name cards, organizing our classrooms, taking classes, and catching up on our educational reading lists.  Not much down time.

You see a teacher, who is a teacher by birth, doesn't ever stop teaching.  Or learning. We live and breath the classroom.  Our thoughts are about improving our lessons, our classroom management or our relationships with colleagues.  If we have a random thought about reading the newest novel by our favorite author, we immediately feel guilty for using that time on ourselves instead of our kids or our classroom.  Our personal lives are centered around our professional lives. Actually, our professional lives control our personal lives. I even planned my wedding and honeymoon around a school break. Let that sink in. Who wants to get married in the middle of March? Exactly.  But we do it because it is what is best for our kids. For our schools. For our professional lives.

 After years of living like this, here's my advice to all the teachers out there. Slow down and give yourself a break. Take some "me" time this summer and on week-ends. Read that book. Sneak in a movie. Sleep in. You're going to need fully charged batteries when your feet hit the floor running this fall.

Here's another tip. Take advantage of teacher resources and teacher education sites that will save you some time.

Here are some of my favorites!

Kids are not always ready to come back to school. This story is about 4 teens that are ready to escape summer!

Students have to make decisions to find their way out! 

If you haven't tried Boom Cards... well... you are missing something. I'm not 100% sold on using tech in the classroom, but this approach is teacher and kid friendly.  Boom Cards allow you time to teach small groups, differentiate, and it provides feedback (depending on which plan you choose- all are affordable) on student progress.  This is really an educational program.

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