It goes without saying that BEING WITH my class is the main part of my teaching life but being APART from them is a big part too. Not only do I spend time after school every day doing student-focused work, like planning and evaluation, but I also think about my students and about teaching further into every evening.
But there are also those times when I don't think about my students or about teaching at all. This requires a significant shift in mentality. I have learnt that if I sit down in the evening to do even one school-related task I almost inevitably end up doing a planathon (and STILL feel behind!) I've learnt that if I want to disengage my teacher-brain, I have to switch it off completely.
This all-consuming aspect of teaching has made my pretty resolute about carving out time for myself that is at least nominally separate from my teacher-brain. I cocoon my weekends (well many of them) and approach Mondays with a possibly flawed sense of fatalism.
And then there's actual holidays. Yikes. This one was especially intensive because I went home to see my family. I knew without a doubt that I didn't want to do any 'school work' while I was in Windhoek.
I prepped and planned and generally tried to organise the classroom so that when I walked in 10 days later I'd get a comforting sense of purpose and flow.
Well, my morning didn't really turn out like I'd hoped. Within the hour I felt impatient and frustrated - at myself and my students, but mostly at myself. I did the gaping fish. I did the stony stares. I felt tired and I didn't feel fun. Why hadn't I spent my whole holiday preparing a world of activities so that this day could be lit? Why didn't I anticipate the lacklustre mundanity of trying to get seven-year-olds to listen to me quietly for unreasonable lengths of time?
At the end of the school day, small groups of students darted and drifted in and out of our classroom, as they always do, wanting to chat, to ask me things and to be comfortably in our space. I even got a marriage proposal - well a declaration really.
We laughed together, we hovered in this calm merriment and I thought about how much I'd looked forward to seeing them that morning. Deciding to disengage my teacher-brain is always a big decision. It has a cost, but I have to believe that it also does me good. A pause. A rest... a gathering of other self-fragments. My afternoon was better than my morning. The teacher is back at her desk.
This week I'm writing about internal teacher dialogue and its impact on teacher-self-esteem and resilience. I'll also be writing about writing. A teacher writing about other teacher's writing. Meta. Read my first 'author snapshot' about the awesome CULT OF PEDAGOGY blog here.
A daunted but determined teacher irons out the creases of her brain.