I think of myself as an emerging connected educator. I have a fantastic PLN that spans the globe and am grateful for the friendships and connections I have formed with teachers, authors and thinkers through Twitter and blogging.
Sometimes I feel disconnected from the world outside of education. We talk about educating the whole child (a non-negotiable in my eyes) but what about the whole educator? During the school year I struggle with escaping guilt when choosing to give my "non-education" interests attention. I recently started following a few non-educator Twitter feeds and I was really worried about it. What do people think? Does it seem unprofessional? I realized that this is ridiculous. I have other interests outside of teaching and that is okay. I am a whole person. And I am an effective educator because I am a whole person. The non-education interests that I have are important in shaping who I am as a teacher.
When I was living in New York during my first few years in the classroom I would often wear my work/life imbalance like a badge of honor. I constantly fixated on rationalizing my sacrifices to my non-teacher friends:
I can't go out to dinner/watch the Oscars/see a play - it is a school night.
I can't wear that (insert clothing/beauty item here), I am a teacher.
I wish I had time to work out but I have to write feedback to students.
I shouldn't spend money on this, I need to buy (insert school supply) for my classroom.
I skipped countless social events, fitness classes and vacations because I felt like I "shouldn't." I envied the wardrobes of my non-teacher friends and dressed myself in head-to-toe boring because I felt like I "couldn't." I was a martyr and I was strangely proud of that. Except I was also unhappy. I was disconnected from my friends and from myself (now my friends and I affectionately refer to this phase in my life as The Midtown Years). Teaching (and every other job) requires sacrifice. But sacrificing myself was a choice.
It took a couple of years for me to realize if my friends want to meet at the diner for dinner on a Tuesday, I can go too. Feedback can be given after yoga. A shopping trip can result in clothing that I will wear at school AND on the weekend. And vacations? I can write about those experiences in Writing Workshop. As I began to be my whole self again I brought more experiences into the classroom and realized that they sparked interest and connections with students and helped build strong relationships and community. There it is and here is some honest, self-reflective feedback that I need to remember:
Being a martyr doesn't make me a better teacher. Being myself does.