Thursday, December 6, 2012


Don't worry about your grades so much, I tell my students. Worry about your learning, your growth, your becoming you, and grades will follow. If you focus solely on the grades, you miss out on the richness of learning for the sake of learning. What does it serve you or your family or the world around you if you stay up until 2 a.m. working on a calculus problem set for your umpteenth Advanced Placement class when politics or literature or history is your true love? I believe in well-rounded people and well-rounded educations, but let's set some priorities here, people!

I am such a hypocrite.

Yesterday as I left school, one teacher remarked good-naturedly that hell must have frozen over since I was out of there while the sun still shone. I left the parents uncalled, the papers ungraded, and the administrative forms unfilled out because I am sick. Too many days of going full throttle at school to feeling obligated to have a social life outside of work have left me curled up with my puppy, my hot water bottle, and my copy of Lois Lowry's newest book.

I want to think that the difference between me wrecking myself for school and my kids doing it is that I like what I'm doing. It makes me happy to pour over student data, call parents, and plan grammar mini-lessons. I get the teaching high daily.

But I still don't take very good care of myself. I sleep and I exercise and I try to socialize and do good things in my community. I don't, however, take very much time for myself, nor am I able to be very spontaneous.

So, teacher friends, these are my questions: How do you find a work-life balance when you really, really love your work? How do you help your students see a difference between work they love or need to do and work that is gratuitous? And can anyone bring me some soup?    

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Love this post Maggie! I definitely don't have any true answers, but I promise I would have brought you soup if I lived closer;) Since the beginning, I've also tried to have some type of work-life balance and I think the social life, volunteering, etc. are what kept me alive last year in a rough work situation. I find that my issue (and I'm sure yours too) is that the number of papers to grade, lessons to plan, etc. never decreases so when you take time for yourself or to spend it with friends it just means that you have to stay up later to get everything done. I just do what I can and think at least (1) I'm young and not too far from burning the midnight oil in college. (2) I don't have a family (mainly kids) that needs me to do stuff for them at the end of the day. (Teachers with kids are my heroes and I don't know how they do it!) (3) I know that in time I will become more efficient, but for now my love for what I do makes it worth it to me. As for students, I think that it's a life lesson that will become more clear to them when they get to college. I know that many people told me the same thing in high school, but it didn't become clear for me until I was on my own. Finally, I really enjoyed Son and would love to hear your opinions. I got to hear Lowry speak at the National Book Festival this year and almost peed my pants with excitement. Hope you're feeling better!