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Teaching Opinion

Sometimes the Answer is to Walk and Wait

By Starr Sackstein — October 11, 2018 2 min read
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There is never a good time for your personal life and your work life to collide with each other making it impossible to focus on the things that matter most.

Being emotional at work is also something that I often strive not to do as it feels unprofessional and counterproductive, but it happens.

It happened to me today.

Fortunately, my colleagues and team are patient, understanding and compassionate. Without judgment, different people throughout the day have contributed to pulling me out of the downward spiral I was hurtling down.

The human side of this profession is what makes it all worth it and meaningful and not just with the students but with each other. Something I am reminded of daily is just how hard being an educator is. Regardless of what role you play in a school (all of them are important), maintaining a positive outlook, following state and federal mandates as well as initiatives to help students succeed is hard work.

Now add to that a challenge with your own child.

I’m not sure why I feel like it shouldn’t happen to me. Maybe it’s because I work with kids and have for a long time and feel like I understand their needs or maybe it’s because I’m so good at helping those kids when their struggles become an issue.

When it’s my son, honestly, all bets are off.

The same way I used to struggle with not being the best teacher or feeling like a fraud, I struggle to see myself as a good mom and/or a strong leader. The level of efficacy I feel in those positions are not as great the way I now can look back on teaching and feel really positive about my capacity.

Maybe that’s just hindsight.

Today was one of those days though, that I couldn’t see through the fog of my emotions. Focusing was hard. Being a good listener was hard. Staying at work was hard.

But I did it.

These struggles help me empathize with my team and my students. We all have baggage that we bring with us each day. Sometimes it is so heavy that we can’t do anything else, regardless of our desire to overcome it.

So we have to stop. Breathe. Ask for help. Be vulnerable. Accept.

And taking a walk doesn’t hurt... and neither does a really good Pandora station.

We have a new beautiful track in our district. I’m glad I had the opportunity to make use of it today. While I had a meeting with a colleague, we decided we would walk instead of sitting in the office. It was a good idea.

The sun and the warmth and the company helped reset my space and I was able to come back into work and get some things done.

Something that I’m coming to realize is that every day won’t be a super productive day to enjoy. Some days just getting through and getting something done is enough. Then not judging myself too harshly for the challenge. This can be an obstacle as it rubs against my perfectionism issues and that starts another whole line of questioning.

So as the day comes to a close and I reflect and I take the time to write about these challenges, I feel a great deal of gratitude for the folks who helped me get through the day.

How do you cope with keeping your personal life from derailing your work life? Please share

Photo by Starr Sackstein

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The opinions expressed in Work in Progress 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.