Dear Blog Space,
Today is Sunday, February 1, 2021. It is the 24th Sunday of a school year unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my almost-19-years in education. Every Sunday of the 2020-2021 school year, I’ve found myself spending much of my day sifting through pacing guides, composing Google Pear Deck Slides, and questioning whether anything written in the tentative hyperlinked lesson plans for my students is realistically enough. If I allow myself to focus my planning solely on the academic aspects of teaching and learning, I have sorely failed before even beginning the week with students. This type of planning would have never been enough for our classrooms, so during a school year such as this, it most definitely isn't.
I've wrestled with this Andre the Giant-sized idea that we need to make this school year as normal as possible by keeping it moving, having high-expectations, holding all stakeholders accountable, etc. Let me assure you that I am no Hulk Hogan and this pandemic is far from 1987's pay-per-view Wrestlemania III event. I have found myself ready to tap out before I've even tapped into the week many Sunday afternoons because of the looming gargantuan expectations I have for myself staring me down from the other side of the educational ring.
1. as much or as many as required. "There's too much work and not enough time to do it"
2. as much or as many of something as required. "You need to get enough of the right things to eat and sleep”
3. to the required degree or extent (used after an adjective, adverb, or verb). "At the time, she wasn't ___enough to _____”
“There’s too much work and not enough time to do it.”
Per our teaching contract, our workday begins at 8:53 AM and ends at 4:00 PM. That should be plenty of time to see 68 students in the morning divided into three classes for 45 minutes of synchronous learning, take an hour lunch, meet with four 30-minute afternoon small groups, log attendance, reach out to students you haven’t seen, and tend to the partridge in a pear tree for good measure, right?
Wrong. I'm convinced that time in a virtual world doesn't tick the same way. If this were a typical school year, I would find these tasks easier to achieve. But guess what? Nothing has been typical in our world for over a year, let alone school. The truth is that my day starts well before 8 AM that and ends far after 4 PM. The truth is not all of my students log in on time or can navigate apps with speed and accuracy. The truth is sometimes the internet connection moves at the speed of snail and the uncomfortable silence of student response/wait-time is thicker than molasses on a windowsill in Winter. The truth is there is always something that is left undone because my body and mind need a brief recess or maybe I just forget or maybe my own family declares, “That’s enough for the day. We need you upstairs, now.” In a previous blog post, I promised myself that I’d prioritize taking care of myself. I lied. I don't prioritize it, I haven’t, and at this point, don’t really know how to. I must find the time.
If I feel this way, I worry if my students and their families feel the same. I spin myself into madness wondering how much work for them is too much. Is the work not enough? Will I compose and send the email or make the phone call that sends someone over the literal edge? The constant thinking and processing of everyone's known and unspoken thoughts/wants/needs is work and there is simply never enough time to address it all.
“You need to get enough of the right things to eat and sleep.”
*Insert uncontrollably inappropriate awkward laughter here." This statement is comical to me. Despite the sleep timer and time-to-eat reminders on my phone, I still manage to not get enough food or rest. How? I’ll spare you all the intimate details, but it has much to do with the blurred lines between school, work, and home. Being able to teach safely from my basement at home has been a blessing. I know not all teachers across the state, the country are afforded this privilege. But honestly, with working from home, I have zero boundaries. I experience insomnia often. I am sometimes too overwhelmed to eat and other times so overwhelmed that I’m eating anything and everything. Can someone say unhealthy? Fix it, Jesus!
“She wasn’t ______enough to _______.”
Insert your choice of adjectives and verbs here. This entire year has been a battle between knowing who I am and flirting with possibilities that maybe I’m really not her after all. "Enough" as it relates to my own opinion of my effectiveness as an educator this school year has been a moving target. An ever-changing finishing line. Did I give them enough_____ during our time together today? (Insert choice nouns here). Did I provide enough time, attention, space, love, work, rigor, practice, opportunities, etc.
Was I ...
Today, I declare that I’ve had enough of all of this overthinking. It is time to revisit my plans for recharging on the weekends and having set times to call-it-a-day during the workweek. As an introvert and empath, doing a large portion of life on screen has been more than enough to make me want to retreat to a secluded cabin in the Michigan woods on numerous occasions. Posting written reminders for myself of my "why" I teach, going to sleep before midnight, and eating 3 times per day may be the goals I start with this week to become better for myself, my family, and my students. I think that'll be enough for now.
Are you doing enough to care for your heart and mind? How have you set boundaries? Let’s share in the comments below.