Falling before the finish line

falling-at-finish-line

Teaching is a lot like a marathon. It takes training, planning and preparation. I have been pretty good at this over the years. I have developed some excellent strategies. I have tried to train my mind (meditation) and my body (diet and exercise). I have been meticulous in my planning to avoid leaving everything until the last minute. I have prepared units of work well in advance to lessen the load. I have put in place restrictions so that my work life did not take too much of a toll on my personal life and I have found myself some excellent coaches to help me along the way. Even with all this in place, I was always completely spent at the end of the year having given the marathon my all but I always finished the race and made it with a good time.

This year I returned to school after 2 years in an admin position. I started my marathon without too much thought. I just fell into the groove of previous years. I did not recognise that I had forgotten the micro-skills I had developed from running consecutive marathons. I had forgotten my routines, processes and practices. The syllabus had changed while I was away so my programs didn’t quite fit. I was teaching a senior subject I hadn’t taught for a very long time. This put my planning and preparation off. I had forgotten the importance of my exercise, diet and meditation training and these were the first things to go when the time pressures hit.

I then took on a relieving role and said yes to whole lot of extra things. The stuff that I really enjoy, the stuff that feeds my inner edunerd  and I continued to teach. In essence, I added a another half marathon to my marathon and agreed to wear a weight belt and army pack. So I worked harder for longer and let all the important training, planning and preparation stuff fall away.

I was struggling, but I was up and I was running and I looked like I had it all under control. I could see the finish line and although tiring I thought I could still make it. But while race security’s back was turned some unstable members of the crowd jumped the fence and blindsided me on the track.

2016-london-marathon-jemima-sumgong-1

Injured just short of the end of term, I did not make the finish line.\

Why do teachers do this? I know it’s not just me. I have seen others take on more and more. I have seen our systems place more and more on us. I have seen society create more and more work for us. We keep making our marathon longer and adding to the load we must carry as we run it.

If I can’t shorten my race, this is how I will be lessening my load:

  • My number 1 priority will be family and friends.
  • I have written a list of goals I wish to achieve. I will refer to these often to remind myself of what I have chosen to focus on.
  • When asked to do extra stuff I will refer to my list and make a decision about whether it fits into my goals.
  • When taking on something extra, I will ask what I should stop doing or negotiate time to do the extra stuff in.
  • I will set reasonable limits on my time for doing school work at home. If it doesn’t get done, it is not because I can’t, it is because it is not humanly possible.
  • I have designated time in the holidays that will be for school preparation and I will only work during this time and relax and not think about it when it is not.
  • In my holiday work time I will prepare for as much of term 1 as I can.
  • I will meditate, exercise and eat well as a priority.
  • I will have fun teaching to remind myself why I love my job.

I hope your marathon year was not as turbulent as mine. Please take time to rest and recuperate these holidays. I plan on it being a PB race in 2017 and if you stumble, I hope there is someone there to help you over the finish line.

 

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2 thoughts on “Falling before the finish line

  1. Louise Pinson December 17, 2016 at 5:35 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your stumbles as well as your successes. Your ‘marathon’ analogy is a very helpful one. Next year I return to a senior executive position after a year’s LWOP minding a grandchild, so this post was an excellent reminder of the importance of planning at all levels. I wish you a refreshing break and a wonderful 2017.

    • jenglish2013 December 17, 2016 at 5:39 am Reply

      Thanks Louise. Enjoy your return in 2017.

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