Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bye-bye, Teacher! (How I Unwind at the End of the Day)

I definitely have a "teacher voice". And a classroom vocabulary. And a school face. And it's important to leave those things at the door. 

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Sometimes I catch myself saying things like, "No no, Tall Guy, don't eat those cookies, they are for our snack tomorrow!" or "That plate is too delicate for the dishwasher, please!" in a singsong voice that would make  even Maria von Trapp want to hurl. Or I want to put the woman who cut the line at the supermarket in a time out. And that's just not cool. On the other hand, I do like/need to share parts of my day, so it's about finding balance.

So I try to start teacher-mode shutdown when I hang up my lab coat. Bye bye, classroom. A nice thing about an on-foot commute is lots of fresh air every day. Sometimes I stop to meet a friend for a coffee, or do errands or shopping on the way home. The way home is the buffer zone. I do run into students and of course I talk to them. I like them! But work is over, and I'm ready to go home. I don't go to the park with them or walk a long way with anyone, nor do I stop for coffee at the parents' favourite coffee shop. I'm off the clock.

When I get home, I write in my work journal if I want to, and then I put my feet up for ten minutes. Ten minutes with my feet up the wall and deep breathing, thank you, yoga.  It's a surefire way to clear and calm my mind. 

Maybe it's not writing things down, or legs up the wall, but a great way to keep joy in the classroom is to keep the teacher in the classroom. As with any job, work is part of who we are, but it's not all of who we are. And work does spill over into life, but it doesn't have to dominate. There are moments when I come across things that remind me of my students - maybe I see a new book or game I think they'll like - but I take note of that in cursive writing, not block print.

What I do next depends on the day. I exercise, I do chores, I cook, I read, I watch something funny, I chat with friends or family. But by this time, Teacher is gone for the day and it's just Me.

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