Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Remember Teaching...

Several years ago, I stopped teaching full time. I didn't stop working full time, but I stopped teaching full time.

I found other ways to work a "full time" without actually teaching full time. I became a curriculum specialist. I became a literacy coach. I became a professional developer. I looked for ways to teach only part-time and do other things to make sure I was working full time.

All of which was satisfying. None of which was as much work as teaching is.

I'm not a slacker. Really, I'm not.

But here's the deal.

Teaching full time is exhausting. It has the potential to consume every waking hour.

Not all teachers are like this. We all know that.

But I am...Teaching can consume me.

So now I'm teaching again...full time...only this time it's at a community college...and we're three weeks into the semester and I'm remembering some things about teaching full time and what it takes out of me and I remember that being at a community college, it's not even one single-fucking-iota what it felt like to teach in k-12 full time. This I know...

But still...I'm remembering....
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to never be caught up with all the grading I need to do.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to never be completely, perfectly, planned for all my classes, no matter how much time I spend planning and preparing (and I have lots more time to plan than I used to. Still, it's never enough.)
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to know that no matter what I do, there are some students who I will not reach, because they are not at a place in their lives that they can learn from me, or from anyone for that matter. Their lives are, simply, impossible. And there's really not much I can do about it.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to not be able to control this aspect of teaching.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to want to do everything I can to get those students to learn anyway.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to be completely exhausted from trying to teach all of the students in front of me, whether they want to learn or not.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to know that I'm probably forgetting to turn in some paperwork or form to the front office, and that tomorrow, I'll get an email reminder that I forgot.
  • I'm remembering that I HATE that.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to say that I don't have time to run because I have to teach, or I have to get ready to teach, or I have to grade some papers, or that I have a meeting to go to, or because I've done all of those things all day, I really should spend some time with my family, and not spend time running.
  • I'm remembering what it feels like to be too tired from teaching at the end of the day to run.
But here's the deal...I love teaching...
  • I love helping someone who just moments ago, didn't understand some concept, understand it now.
  • I love helping someone who wants to communicate what they think about an important idea, find the words to communicate it.
  • I love helping someone discover that they can do something that they previously thought they could not.
How do I find the balance?

It's Thursday night. I've run once this week....again. Yesterday morning, I ran for the first time since Sunday. I eeked out 25 minutes on the treadmill and was almost late to my first class because of it...

I'll run tomorrow, because I'm lucky and I don't have classes on Fridays and I'll have time to run.

And then I'll run on Saturday and Sunday...finally. One of those days will be a long run...

And I wonder, will running mostly on weekends be enough to stay in shape and to continue being a runner? I wonder....

It was only about 3 years ago, that I started running and taking care of myself. I know that once I stopped teaching full time, I was able to find the time to run.

So, I'm wondering, will teaching cost me running?

That seems a high cost to pay.

Or maybe not...

I'm just remembering.

(Lest you think I've gone completely off my rocker and into the abyss...please know that I COULD HAVE run tonight, but I decided to go to HAPPY HOUR instead and have a few glasses of wine...I do have my SOME of my priorities straight after all...and the third glass of Pinot Noir is probably some of the cause of my melancholy this evening)


  1. 3 glasses of Pinot sounds wonderful!! Just tell people you were celebrating my birthday from afar!!!!

    I feel your pain about having no time! I feel that all the time in my job! But I still consider myself a runner! Even though some weeks I go days without running! We are still runners!! You have to find a balance that works! You may not like it initially or you may never like it but you have so many things in your life that you need to find time for!!! You'll do it!!!


  2. That wine at the end of the day sounds great!! I hope that you really enjoyed it.

    You're always going to be a runner, having a busy life with responsibilities does not take that title away from you.

    Remember you're just starting back to teaching full time so give yourself a break, it will all fall into place. You're only human after all.

  3. I also teach full-time as a community college instructor too, and I can give you a "hear-hear" to being exhausted by it. I teach an overload class as well, so by the end of my week, I feel wiped out.

  4. That's a lot of profound thought for someone who just drank 3 glasses of wine. ;-)

    I really enjoyed this post- getting a peek into what goes through the mind of a teacher.

    I've had many periods of slacking as a runner, but you are still a runner.

  5. You could always teach running...

  6. Gosh...I'm looking back at my rant from last night and all I gotta say is WHAT A FREEKIN' WHINER (not wine-r, that's something different)...JUST SLAP ME!!!

    I'm going to go run now so I have something to blog about except for poor, busy, me...GAH!

  7. You're still a runner!

    I'm thinking about a career change and getting into teaching. I might have to pick your brain sometime. :)

  8. I'm sure just like when you start with K-12 the first few years are the toughest cause you have to develop your lesson plans and all that and then it gets easier... So just look forward to that. Besides that you skeered me a heck of a lot ;)

  9. You arent off your rocker - working full time will definitely affect your running. AFFECT, yes......but will it COST YOU your way!! ;)

    I am a master juggler....juggling work, family, personal fitness...and it's crazy. Sometimes things suffer, but it's all about getting back on track and finding ways to make it all work. Most days it means that I run at 9:00 at night after all my other obligations are satisfied. Not the best scenario, but sometimes necessary.

    You will find a way to balance it all. My hubs is a teacher so I know how time and energy consuming it really is....but you will do it!

  10. Teaching is great! We must understand how students' minds work, and how they think. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

  11. Oh, you are brave to blog after drinking :) You did a fabulous job!! Love the "teach running" idea!