Goals vs Reality

My district has been offering a lot of thoughts and professional development with the theme of "work-life balance" and "resilience." I bristle a little bit at this, because often the reason why work-life balance is so hard is because the job is just never-ending and we keep getting new initiatives to implement and new hats to put on and new crises to avert. Taking a mindful minute is not really going to undo that structural house of cards. 

However, I did set some goals this year to help me where I can control things, since I am not single-handedly going to overhaul the educational system. 

1) Get up earlier. (Includes the opposite -- go to bed earlier.)
2) Eat breakfast at home. No more microwaving egg bites in your classroom microwave, announcing to the hallway and stairwell that you are indeed in school today. 
3) Eat lunch. Like, with people. Away from my desk and/or computer.  
4) Leave work at school except Sunday work. I haven't figured out how to NOT have Sunday work. 
5) Say NO more. Don't sign up for 80 billion things. Don't succumb to the guilt. 

I would give myself a solid B- so far. You can check my math though.

1) I am actually doing a pretty good job of going to bed and getting up earlier. Unfortunately, time seems to shift when I have more of it and I am still rushing like mad to get to school on time. This is a stumper. Do I live in a twilight zone where time does not exist the same way it does for others? (The answer is yes. See: ADHD.) So, I'm doing passably well, but it isn't making much of a difference. Grade: B

2) I have eaten absolutely ZERO eggs at school this year! I have, in a day where I hit "dismiss" instead of "snooze," brought yogurt and granola, but that's not offending anyone's olfactory and I didn't eat it in front of anyone. Grade: A+

3) Eat lunch as an actual break in the presence of other humans. This, ironically, was something that administration suggested. Take lunch to recharge! You'll have a better afternoon! And you'll get to spend time with colleagues! I have done this about 50% of the time. In part because COVID keeps whooshing through our building. I have been masking at school since the first full week because of COVID striking close, but you have to eat. And apparently eating not quite on top of other people for 15 minutes is enough time to get COVID. So yes. Spoiler: I have motherflipping COVID again. Maybe it's not time for social lunch yet. (The good news is that this round has been less severe than previous, but I DID NOT WANT IT. And it is NOT "just a cold." And with this variant, I didn't test positive until I swabbed my throat, which means everyone is swabbing noses and coming up negative while horribly contagious. SIGH. There is no way for me to avoid it as a teacher, I am starting to realize. Which is unbelievably shitty.) So, Grade: C, but F for COVID. 

4) I don't know how people get shit done during the day, during "prep periods." I honestly don't. I am doing okay with this goal, but honestly because I am cheating. I do it all at work and don't bring it home (or take work on a lovely round trip in my backpack without actually looking at it at home), but only because I'm staying until 5 or so. It does keep the separation up, but I am realizing there is literally no getting ahead of the to-do list no matter what. See: Structural Problems In Education. Grade: C+ (points deducted for cheating)

5) This one I am actually doing gangbusters at. I feel horrifically guilty, but I did not answer the call to do bus duty before or after school (it's a rare year where I have 1st and 9th "free," but I need every ounce of that time and being on my feet outside is probably not the best idea). I am looking to lower my "Yes, sure, pick me!" and I'm doing way better. Grade: A- (because I still signed on for a couple things). 

I have to remind myself that goals are there to push you, but not to be gargoyles looming over you, howling "oh look, you failed! BWAHAHAHAHA! Why did you even bother to try?" Shut up, inner gargoyles. 

Overall, I am trending upward. Which is progress, especially since I tend toward the obsessive (um, like all my years of infertility treatment and adoption goals and initiatives and pushes to the brink of reason). 

And I'm totally mad that good intentions = COVID.  This variant, while "milder," is insanely contagious. Maybe we should pull back on the social community stuff for a little while, lonely as that is. 


  1. Oh nooooo, Jess! I am hearing about SO many people with covid right now, many for the first time (after dodging the bullet for a full 3.5 years!). Take care of yourself and don't push yourself too much once you start feeling better again!

  2. Please the list you did is So Busy. It is so much, and why? Is better to do the things with calm. With all my LOVE for you. Greetings from Mallorca.

  3. Oh Jess, that sucks! I'm glad you're feeling better this time, but I also get so mad when people say, "it's just a cold." Maybe, if you're lucky, it is. (And thanks for the tip about swabbing the throat - I've had three negatives for my current cold, but haven't swabbed my throat.)

    I'm very glad you've taken some steps to help yourself this year. As much as you can, of course, given the structural issues around work. I'm not surprised you bristle when they lecture you about this. It's as if they are ticking a box - "See, we care!" - rather than actually helping you to make work life adjustments to improve your balance.

    Interestingly, elsewhere, I read another post that you could have written and vice versa from a friend I've blogged with since around 2006. She's also a middle school special ed teacher (in St Louis). You are both amazing people, but given very little support by the system it seems. Sending hugs.

  4. I'm giving you an A+ for your goals, your progress, and your self-reflection.

    If it's safe to eat lunch with others and you have a group of people that don't spend their 30 minutes complaining, I am totally in favor of eating lunch with others. I did this during my last year of teaching and it was a great mid-day break. I got along with all of the teachers on my team and we just visited about easy, simple stuff over lunch. I really enjoyed it.

    Also, I know it sounds impossible, but it IS possible to not bring schoolwork home with you. Somehow I figured out how to do that during my last year of teaching. There were a couple of days in there that I had to tell students to study, read, or draw all period because I needed to get some paperwork done. I didn't think about it at the time, but one student told me he'd never seen someone work so much. That's when I realized that it's good for students to see me work. We work hard!! They need to see that. They need more hardworking role models in their lives.

    It sounds like you're doing really well with reconfiguring some of your routines. Remember it's progress, not perfection! I hope you are feeling better. <3

  5. Crap about Covid, especially since it may have come from eating socially. Also, I had no idea that you could have it but test negative with nasal swabbing. Double yikes! Glad it's milder.

    I'm very proud of you about #5. Keep that up!