On my days off, I love teaching.
Before you jump to conclusions, let me settle your mind. I love kids. I am not one of those teachers that you ask why in the world did they ever get into education.
In fact, I fall more in love with my students each day. All of them. I love the students that are the type-A, organized and orderly kind: the kind who the stray eraser shaving on their desk will surely spark a moment of panic until the working area is clean and ready.
I love the students that have so much energy it’s almost as if I can see into their brains; it’s a carnival. The Ferris wheel is spinning at a mad, wild speed. The cotton candy machine is overflowing. The crowd is so loud that the entire atmosphere is glowing.
I love the students that ask so many questions, just aching for perfection. I just give them a big, sympathetic smile, seeing so much of myself in them and knowing that the perfection they seek is impossible. In fact, those are the students I make a goal of trying to let them see that there is beauty and growth in the failure.
I also love my students that test my patience each day, asking me to grow as a person and become more Christ like. Is there a bigger treasure than being provided the opportunity to grow in love, patience, kindness and grace because they surely deserve it? Often, those are the students that need it the most.
But I do find myself asking some days, what would Jesus do in this wild, crazy, beautiful middle school classroom? I hope he is proud. I am surely doing my best through prayer, petition and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).
So, if I love my wild, crazy and diverse set of students, why do I love my job as teacher on my days off you ask? My answer is simple: because my students deserve the absolute best.
On my days off, I get to become the best version of me.
I have time to scavenge the web for amazing educators that are blogging about great lessons. Often it is not that teachers are trying to reinvent the wheel when we spend inordinate amounts of time creating new, original lesson plans. It is just that we are not provided time to look at that great, already-crafted wheel that is just a Google search away.
On my days off, I can allow my mind the time to rest and think, designing lesson plans that are sure to help my students grow as learners. I can study and Google that wheel until my heart is floating. I can calm my own carnival brain down and silence my own little devil of a perfectionist on my left shoulder, whispering to me that I am not enough.
On my days off, I am becoming the teacher my students deserve.
In the school year, especially right about this time of year, exhaustion is way beyond the point of “set in.” In fact, exhaustion has “set in” so much that it has a permanent residence with a mailing address and all. Exhaustion has set up furniture, décor and is constantly adjusting the thermostat of my life. The furniture that exhaustion has set up is heavy and weighs me down. The décor is excessive, and the clutter crowds my mind, making it hard to focus and simply be present. The thermostat is going up and down, not allowing me to ever acclimate to my own life. Yes, at this point in the year, exhaustion is not “setting in,” but it has moved in and has my body on overdrive.
This is the time of year where I ask myself, how is this job as teacher sustainable? How am I supposed to clean the house, cook dinner, find time to exercise, work in time for bible study, foster any sort of social life, and care and tend to my marriage? And I do not even have children yet! It is scary. The question really is daunting.
Yes. This is why my days off are so important. I can do all of those things that are so important to teachers. In fact here is my schedule today:
1) Attend a local coffee shop.
2) Plan lesson plans and read educator blogs in said coffee shop.
3) Make a stop at the spa.
4) Meet a friend for a “real” lunch. Not a 30 min. speed race in which I am darting to the copier, responding to e-mails and making adjustments to the day’s plans after teaching my first class.
5) Get a pedicure.
6) Drop off clothes that need to be dry-cleaned.
7) Mop the floor and do the laundry.
8) Read (for fun).
9) Stop by the bank and insurance company for beginning of the year appointments (yes, it is February).
10) Visit my family.
11) Be in the Word at my church’s local If: Gathering
These are all important as an educator.
On my days off, I still do not answer my question: how is this job as teacher sustainable, but I do allow myself to enjoy this day.
On this day, I will become a better person, friend, wife, Christian, daughter and teacher.