by Stacy Menzies
Do you often wonder if doctors or accountants get the same reactions us teachers do when we tell people what we do for a living? You know, visceral ones like, “so you’re a highly paid babysitter” “at least you get the summers off” “must be nice to leave work everyday at 3.”
Growing up, teachers were idolized. Even the terrible ones. They were the authority in education. If a teacher called home, you were in for the duration. If you saw them in the grocery store, you paid proper homage and moved along quickly.
Not so anymore. It seems like people are on one side or the other. People either love us or hate us. There’s not a lot of middle ground. Sometimes the ones that hate us are so loud, it makes us ask ourselves why we do what we do for a living.
There have been times in my 16 years in education that I’ve questioned what I’m doing. My questions never have anything to do with the kids. I often say that nobody leaves teaching because of kids. It’s the adults in and out of the system that make people question their vocation.
We all have a story, or more likely, multiple stories of times when we thought about leaving. Some leave and some decide to stick it out. Some of us, though, really like what we do and where we do it. Once we have that realization, it’s really important that we take care of ourselves so we can continue to be mentally, physically and spiritually healthy, can do our jobs and live our lives in the best, most balanced way possible.
Teachers leave teaching for a number of reasons. We see it every year. They may be financial, health related, stress related or coming to the realization that there are jobs that they can do and still have balance in their lives.
When you engage in a self-care routine, though, you realize you can, and have earned, that balance. It means setting boundaries so you have time to enjoy with your friends, family, or in quiet solitude. It means taking care of your physical and nutritional needs because you know that they provide you with the energy you must have to stay well. It means finding different ways to look at situations so that you can maintain optimism and enthusiasm for your job. It means being your best self for your students, your family but most importantly, for you.
We have seen teachers stand collectively in Arizona, Oklahoma, and most recently Los Angeles, with some success. What if we all stood collectively? What if it was about investing in ourselves so that we have more to invest in the future, our kids?
I’m fortunate. I love what I do. I love my kids. I love my administration. I love my colleagues. I love that I get to get up every morning and make some kind of difference. I love that I get to do it while taking care of myself and helping others do the same. I love my job. It’s okay to say it.
– Stacy Menzies is is Founder and Chief Happbassador of Happy Fix. She is a National Board Certified Teacher with 16+ years experience teaching at the K-12 level and is a thoughtful advocate for her fellow teachers, both in and out of the classroom.