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?