I received two invaluable pieces of advice my first year teaching:
1. Pack good lunches
This came from a woman who has been teaching more years than I've been alive. 'There is nothing that will burn a teacher out quicker than waiting in line with her students for greasy tater tots,' she said. 'Pack a nice lunch, eat with your co-workers, and talk about anything other than school.'
I think about this advice all the time, and not just when I'm getting ready for work in the morning. I think about it when I have a choice between fast food and a local cafe, and I think about it when I see people shoving hamburgers in their mouths while waiting at stoplights.
As I finish my fifth year as a teacher, I am happy to report that my lunches remain good and packed. Today's lunch conversation involved Adam, Kris, and that hideous song that the winner of AI will have to sing tonight.
2. Pick your battles
This came from one of my teachers in the credential program. He too had been teaching for ages and said, 'You have a million battles to fight every day. Being a good teacher is knowing which battles are worth spending your energy on, and which ones simply aren't worth it.'
I think about this advice all the time as well, but the practice hasn't been so easy. I'm inherently a questioner. I'm also a hoarder of insults, passive aggressive remarks, and failing marks on exams. I stack them in my chest until I'm ready to explode with frustration. I usually do, and the catalyst can be anything from a Cheerios commercial to a missed phone call from a friend. Healthy, I know.
I have a couple of battles brewing at the moment. They sit like canker sores on the inside of my lip. I'm waiting for the handbook for how to deal with these situations, but I don't think it's getting published anytime soon. As I was thinking about it today, I realized that the advice I've held on to in teaching works for all aspects of my life:
Pack good lunches.
Pick your battles.
When facing the unknown, women in their thirties find relief in knowing that despite the chaos of their lives, they have choices. And the smart ones choose to be happy.