In 2013 I started this series of posts about my life as an educator. It came about when as a leader in my district I saw many teachers giving up hope. Both the state and the federal governments were increasing their attacks on public education, teachers and in the guise of ‘we want what is best for our children’, initiated even more test accountability. In my opinion, what this did was left many educators disheartened and many grew weary of the job. Teachers felt that they were under attack by politicians that didn’t understand how they nourished the whole child. We lost some good teachers, but luckily many of them stayed and continue to nurture children in their classrooms every day.
These posts also came about as I was reflecting on my own voyage as an educator and leader. (To see my ‘Story of an Educator’ posts filter by category on the right. My first was A Time for Reflection.)
It has been 6 years since my first post about my life as an educator. In that time I have had many experiences that have expanded both my knowledge and compassion. My work as a leader in my district had grown and taken up most of my waking moments. I felt strongly that I was there to support the teachers, administrators, and staff within my district so, therefore, I wanted to give them all the very best of me. As the job grew to include more and more responsibilities I was not as able to give my very best to everyone. I started to shift and make adjustments. I also started to invest more and more of my time to my work. Longer days and most weekends were devoted to my work. I became more and more aware that the more time I spent working, the less time I was present for my life in general. There was always another deadline looming so I went from one project, initiative, state mandate, meeting … to the next. During that time it wasn’t all bad- I felt I was making a difference and facilitated some great work including several mental wellness parent nights. I also had some great conversations about teaching and learning with my fellow educators.
The turning point came when my mother became ill starting in November of 2016. I had gone back to school for my EdD (like I didn’t have enough going on) and was taking my first class. It became clear to me that I needed to change something in order to regain more balance in my life. In January 2017 I started taking time to be more present and mindful, carving out time every morning for meditation practice. I also took a leave from the EdD program as mom was in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities. Mom passed away on September 1, 2017.
Fast forward to 2019 and my reason for reflection today. It became more and more apparent that my job was not healthy for me. I was learning to be more present, I had started to take better care of myself both emotionally and physically. I lost some weight that kept me from living my best life. I was getting healthier but there came a point where I needed to evaluate why I had stopped growing. I made a bold decision to step away from my job, from a district I had worked for since 2001. A district that had afforded me many learning experiences. A district where I had built relationships and made many a friend in. It was not an easy decision, but one I felt I had to make to regain my life.
So as I reflect on 2019 I spent the summer remembering what it was like to have time to recharge. My job now as an edtech coach allows me to work directly with teachers improving learning for them and their students every day. I have time to think about how learning can be best facilitated with technology. I’ve met more incredible teachers in the region, working every day to give our children a fighting chance at a future by giving them the power of thinking and knowledge. I also have landed with an incredible team at Broome Tioga BOCES of fellow educators and leaders who believe in the power of professional learning and growth for all (Go Team PLIC!).
My ‘story of an educator’ has taken me back where my passion started. Back to the building, to the classroom, to the teachers who are making a difference every day. I am very grateful for all the years of experience that now allow me to see the full picture of how education ‘works’ but at the end of the day what happens with the teacher and the students in the collaborative classroom is the most important.
Here are my takeaways from 2019, my growing year:
- You are never too old to change your path for the better: this includes both your personal mental wellness path and your professional path. (Stop talking about it and just do it!)
- As an educator, your students (whether they are children or teachers) deserve a healthy you: You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others!
To my fellow educators, be well. Here’s to a healthy and fully present 2020!