Teaching Profession Opinion

Making the Call: Self-Care vs. Work Commitment

By Starr Sackstein — November 14, 2017 2 min read
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This morning I woke up with what feels like a golf ball in my throat. I didn’t feel great yesterday and tried to take it easy, but today I feel a little worse.

Pretending that it isn’t that bad, I’ve already decided that I’m going to work.

After all, there are meetings today at Central and my first planning session with one of the Social Studies teams is this morning.

Essentially, my goal is to take it one obligation at a time and if I need to go home, I will.

When I was in the classroom full time, it took me years to realize it was okay to take care of myself, but I abhorred the idea of leaving my students without a real lesson. Of course, once I realized that I could communicate with them from home, provide them opportunities to continue their learning and that I didn’t have to be in control to do it, I was golden.

That space was a well-oiled machine.

My new situation doesn’t feel that way yet, and although I can do a lot of what I have to finish from home (like my budgets that are due for the high school on Monday and the middle school the following week), I still feel like I need to be visible.

And it’s not because I have something to control, it’s because I still have so much to learn.

Yesterday, I briefly stumbled onto #BFC530 and the topic asked us to “grade” ourselves after the first semester of school.

In early November, I’m not meeting standards yet. There are things I believe I’m doing well and making some in-roads, but there is so much to learn and so many relationships to develop. If I’m going to be successful in the space I’m in, my commitment and dedication need to be clear and my intentions transparent.

And although I know on the most basic level that taking care of myself is essential to my success (you know all that stuff about putting the oxygen mask on myself first before putting it on small children), I also know that I need to be connected to what’s going on.

Since I’m by far my own toughest critic, I expect so much and feel deeply disappointed when I don’t see the results that I’m determined to get when I’m working.

I’m lucky to have people around me to help me stay grounded in reality. At home I have a partner who makes sure I take care of myself (eating, sleeping, exercising and staying home when I need to) and at work, a boss and a few colleagues who remind me that I’ve only been on the team since September and that there is only so much that can happen in three months.

As I begin to make in-roads with the staff, developing relationships, putting myself out there and trying to be transparent, so that I can connect with people on a human level, I realize that this takes time. That’s why I don’t want to miss any of it.

Balance is tremendously hard, even when you realize how important it is. I understand intellectually that I can’t do anything else well, if I don’t take care of myself, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Today, I’m going to take everything one thing at a time and if I really can’t do what needs doing, I will ask to go home to rest.

What is your tell signs for having to stay home versus trying to make it through work? Please share.

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