… And Now, I Am Not

By: Todd

I taught for 26 years, and now, in year 27, I am not.  I am one of those pseudo administrators that principals dream up, to help with discipline, like a dean of students.  Only my title is Restorative Practices (RP) Coordinator.   My principal carved my position out from her staffing allocation.  Don’t misunderstand me: I am ALL IN with RP.   I cannot see how it can hurt.   But, this isn’t an essay on the benefits of RP; it is about the difference in my day to day routine, compared to the previous 26 years. 

Stress levels the night before and the morning of, are a lot less.  I don’t have to worry about grades or attendance or getting 27 teenagers engaged.  I just roll in, check my email, make a list of kids I need to see, and listen to the walkie. 

I don’t take work home.  I usually finish up my paperwork by 3.  When I was a teacher, I never left school until 4 (school lets out at 2:15), and then I often had 15 min to 2 hours of work when I got home.             

I know sooooo many students.  I meet the knuckleheads that need some RP love. But, I meet all their friends.  I have done over 800 conferences this year with 300 different kids.  I know so much about so many of the students.  It is powerful.

I feel like I give students a voice and teachers support and lord knows admin is happy.  I can keep a lot of issues off their desks.   I feel important, helpful, and appreciated…

Around October of this year, it was clear I needed some self-care.  I was extremely agitated when I got home.  I was short with the wife and kids.  I was NOT happy.   Two months into the job I strongly advocated for, and I was struggling.

Here is the thing I figure out.  Teaching is stressful.  Teaching is hard.  But when you to teach, you hit great highs, and great lows.  But, when you are low, you know better planning, or a certain class, or a certain student, or a certain activity, will get you out of it.  The highs make you euphoric.  They make up for the blah days or the crap days.

I don’t have highs or lows now.  I am “Even Steven.”  I walk into crises almost every interaction I have.  Most of it is low level crisis, some of it is NOT.  But, I am the soother.  I must roll in calm and cool and try to diffuse the annoyed to very agitated 15 to 18-year-old.  I must do this all day.  I think I do well at it.  But I have figured out that there are few great moments in my day.   Almost every day, when I taught, I could count on one great interaction with a student, that would pump me up.  And often a whole group of students, or if my lesson was “bangin” all my classes and all my students.  Now… “Even Steven.” 

Oh yeah, I also feel responsible for all kids walking the halls without a pass.  I am so stressed the last two periods.  It is irrational to feel like I need to chase every kid down, but I can’t stop worrying about it.

So, anyhow, for the first time in my career, I am taking my self-care seriously.  If I don’t do one of four things, I am a mess the next day.  I either meditate for 20 to 30 minutes, read a frivolous book, exercise for an hour, or watch a mindless television show.  It mostly works. 

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