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.