Sunday, September 2, 2012

School Daze

For me, back to school and back to work are the same thing.
Tragically, my summer vacation has ended.  I've been back to work for two weeks now.  The first week back for teachers is always a week of meetings, in-services, and setting up classrooms.  The second week is when the students descend upon the school.  This week was all about getting to know my new students and giving endless preassessments to see what skills and abilities they all have.  That's what has been happening on the work front.
Fun with sight word cards

On the home front, my honey no longer has a stay at home girlfriend.  He mourned the loss for the first few days.  He seemed to especially miss his "Honey, I'm home!" moments because I'm now getting home later than he does.  Believe it or not, the idea that teachers only work from nine to three is a myth.  My official work hours are eight to four, but I'm usually at work until five thirty or later.

My desk wasn't quite this messy last spring, but it was close.
When we first started dating, I raced home from work as soon as the bell rang every day, whether I'd left a stack of papers to grade on my desk or not, because I couldn't wait to see my honey.  I got really behind at work as a consequence of all that ducking out early.  This school year, I've decided I have to be a bit more sensible.  As a friend told me last spring, I just need to find a balance between home and work.  Yes, I still feel a pull towards home and honey around quarter of five when I know he's getting home, but I'm staying later at work to get things done so I don't get behind again.

To achieve a balance between home and work, I'm establishing a few ground rules.

Rule #1: I will grade all assignments on the same day they are turned in by the students. 

This means I am going to have to do some work from home.  Doing work at home is a fact of life as a teacher.  There simply aren't enough hours in the school day to grade papers while at work.  My honey has already been very supportive of this rule, though he didn't realize it at the time.  I came home with learning styles surveys that I had given my students (to figure out how they learn best) and my honey volunteered to score them for me.  Just took the stack out of my hands, grabbed a pen, asked about the scoring key, and got down the business.  He was awesome!

Rule #2: It is okay to say "No".

Whether it is saying, "No, I can't volunteer after school three days a week at your homework club."  or "No, I can't go to two weekday hockey games this week,"  I am going to work on the art of refusal.  It's wonderful that my co-workers want my help and it's awesome that my honey wants my company, but I do not have to be all things to all people at all times.  Sometimes, I am going to have to say no to keep myself on-track and my work load managable.

Rule #3: Wherever I am, I am going to live "in the moment".

When I'm at home, I am going to focus on home and honey.  When I am at school, my attention will be focused on what needs to get done there.  I will not let Sunday afternoons be ruined because I'm already thinking about everything I need to get done Monday morning at work.  Conversely, I won't be unfocused at work because I'm thinking about how I'm going to have to rush out at dismissal to make it to the game in a timely manner.  My honey seems fairly confident that the NHL is going to have a lock-out this season, so the perils of dating a season ticket holder may become moot for a while.  Either way, I am going to keep my head in the game, whether at the game or at work or at home.

Rule #4: If I can't follow one of these rules, I am not going to stress about it.

If I don't get to that stack of papers tonight because we have plans, it's okay and I will get to it tomorrow.  If I say yes where I should have said no, I will find a way to make it work.  If I get a little worried about work while I'm at home, I'm not going to berate myself for a moment of thinking ahead.  Above all, these rules are meant to help me, not to make me feel worse about myself because I can't even follow my own rules.

Plus, if I find myself struggling, I know this really awesome honey I can talk to about whatever is challenging me.  Sometimes, he'll just listen and make encouraging comments.  Occasionally, he'll be a shoulder to cry on.  And every once in a while, he'll take the stack of papers out of my hand, grab a pen, and start tackling the problem with me.

I am a very lucky lady!

We will make it work together.

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