Opinion
Education Opinion

The Teacher or the Self?

By Hanne Denney — December 31, 2007 2 min read

New Year’s is, of course, a time to reflect on Self. Formal resolutions aren’t required, but time to look back and the willingness to look ahead are. Last year I wrote about using a notebook to keep track of all my “to-do’s”. That system has worked well for me. Everyone at my new school knows that I carry a red notebook -- and if they ask me to do something, they ask me to write it in the notebook. That way they know I’ll see it again, and remember to actually do the task. I’m spending time today looking through that notebook to identify any tasks that I did not complete. I want to take care of those things early in the new year.

I’ve bought a new notebook for 2008. There’s something about starting fresh, with white pages. It’s like the first day of school all over again. I’m ready for new tasks.

I bought myself something else to carry with me this year - a small notebook calendar. I already have a planning book for class, and a school schedule book, both of which live in my “teacher bag”. But those are for school, and fill up with meetings and paperwork deadlines, assignments and assessment dates. The squares fill up with time for students, other teachers, administration. I realized that calendar did not have much time for Self.

My new calendar is for all those other things that get lost in the daily rush. I’m writing in the fun things I want to do. I’m recording important family dates, such as birthdays, my daughter’s graduation date this May, holiday celebrations. I am also scheduling weekend events. I’m planning museum visits, movie dates, lunches with friends. I’m planning my vacation this summer. In keeping with my resolutions, I’m scheduling in exercise and meditation times.

I am realistic, so I know I will have some work to do on the weekends. But It is so easy to let that work time take up most of the day, so that no time is left for other things. So I am trying to shape that into small blocks -- 1-2 hours Sunday afternoon.

Now I am adding something else to my new calendar. I keep talking about school as “work”, and of course it is my job, and it is work. But teaching is my vocation, and I want to celebrate and recognize the “fun” of the job, too. So I am including on my personal calendar some celebration times at school, too. I am writing in Friday “team points awards” for Language Arts class. What a great way to finish the week! I am noting my department meetings, where we share our successes. I’m noting workshops and seminars I’m attending, because professional development is refreshing.

I’m not sure my new system is going to work that well, because now I see that the Self and the Teacher overlap a lot. Perhaps they can’t really be separated, but both can be strengthened and balanced. So my resolution is to celebrate and enjoy both -- and focus on not losing the Self in the Teacher.

I wish you great joy in 2008. Celebrate!

The opinions expressed in In the Middle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.