I always chose the hard path. My whole life. [seriously, ask my mom.]
I thought that’s where I could make the biggest difference – the hard path – but, as I grow up, I’m realizing it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. In all honestly, I think every teacher chose a hard path. It might just be the hardest job in the world. So, it made total sense when I recently heard a podcast speak to the two reasons why a person leaves a profession, even a rewarding one. It’s because there is one or two voids in that person’s life – either a void of time or a void of money.
Well, my dear, as teachers, we have both. Lemme break it down for you.
Disclaimer : This is not a complaint sesh. I am sharing these voids to #keepitreal and #speakourtruth.
In this past year, as a teacher in my fourth year…
-The fewest hours I’ve ever worked in a week has been 50. That’s happened once or twice.
-The most hours I’ve ever worked in a week has been 85-90. I shudder to think what that number looked like in year one.
-The average hours look more like 60 hours per week.
Friends that don’t teach, bless their hearts, often just don’t get it. How could a teacher possibly use up all that time? Well there is a lot that we do outside of direct instruction hours [or time working directly with kids]. Things like planning, prepping, differentiating work to meet all student levels, phone calls, e-mails, paperwork, copies, and meetings, among other things.
And bonus! The school day – that direct instruction time – is getting longer. I see my kids from 7:30-4:00 [including dismissal].
Think about it – my contracted time to be at school is 7:15-4:15. That’s 9 hours a day. Breaks? Yea! I actually get more break time than lots of other school districts.
—>15 minute lunch
—>40 minute prep time
But let’s be real, I’m not spending those as a time for a break; I’m hustlin’. I’m eating cucumbers and making copies. I’m putting out snack and sending emails at the same time. I’m rehearsing the opening line to my next lesson while I’m simultaneously prepping next week’s Word Study. I am HUSTLIN’. I want to get as much work done as possible, so that I don’t have to do much more than grade during Grey’s Anatomy or make parent phone calls while heating up dinner when I get home.
And, bonus thought, remember those extended school hours for kids I mentioned – that means we are responsible for more direct instruction time with kids, which we have to plan/prep for, yet we are given the same amount of time to plan and prep. More work. Less time. #void
It’s no secret that teachers make diddily-squat. Just to put it in perspective, I work at a charter that pays higher than the public schools in the area. I also have experience which puts me in a slightly higher salary bracket.
There was only one week that I calculated my hourly wage based on the hours I ACTUALLY worked.
It was $7.10/hour.
I never did it again – calculated my hourly wage, I mean. Cause that was just depressing! The work we do as teachers is of SUCH higher value! Also, know that this WAS at the start of the year – when it’s hardest and we work the most, but still, that’s just hard to swallow.
So, how have I stayed [somewhat] sane in the last 4 years?! Let me show you the phases…
Year 1, Part I – Identity Loss
Picture This. Fresh faced bubbly post-grad. Enters 1st Grade ready to make a difference. And I did make a difference, hands down. But throughout those first 6 months, I felt as though I had ZERO choice but to make teaching my identity, my life. There was no other way. I lived, breathed, WAS teaching. And it kind of broke me in a way. I had just graduated from a place where I wore all these hats. I had my hand in so many different projects. And all of a sudden there was no more Jasmine – there was only Ms. Jonte, First Grade Teacher.
In fact, some teachers fail to recognize this switch. It took me a while too. Some DO recognize it and are ok with it, but when I realized I had lost massive parts of my identity, I wasn’t ok with it. Which led me to year the second half of the year.…
Year 1, Part II – Depression
I sunk into the darkest place I have EVER known. I resented the kids from stealing my life, my self. Even though I could logically separate it, I couldn’t separate myself from that emotion – resentment. I felt like there were no options. I had no one. #dark
I know I’ll revisit this on this site sometime, perhaps before the start of the next school year for all my teacher friends, but in the meantime, here is one statement of truth :
I often wished for a car accident on the way to school each day. I would go over an overpass and just wonder, “What if?”
I know. It was selfish. So ungrateful. I am and was at the time ridiculously blessed. I am totally ashamed that those even floated into my mind. But y’all, those were my thoughts. That was where my head was at.
Valentine’s Day 2013
Year 2 – Seeking without Success
Year 2 was so much better in terms of instruction and time management at school. I had the whole teaching thing figured out better. I had a mentor and friend who believed in me. [oh, hey Kammy Webb ;)] My kids just seemed to get it quicker. So I found some time for me, right?
Well, I tried. I sought balance. Joined, quit, and rejoined the gym. Tried to eat better – but, like, what does that even mean? Moved into my own apartment. Did all the things I was supposed to do to find balance.
And it never came. I still couldn’t say “No.” I had trouble making friends. School was less toxic, but still there. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t depressed. I just got through it.
Year 3 – My double whammy game changer
Juniper happened. She filled me with joy AND she gave me that excuse to say, “No!” to what I didn’t need and “Yes!” to what I did need.
Want to join this committee? Nope – Juni has to pee.
Want to go to the bar? Nope – Juni has been in the crate, gotta stay home.
Need to exercise? Yep – Walk my dog twice a day.
Need to have a hobby? Yep – Dog training.
Need a friend? Yep – Built in bestie.
Then I saw my human bestie from high school post this pic in February where she is looking’ #slammin and I say – gotta do what she’s doing.
—> And with that one Comment [I’m in!] I stumbled into Team Beachbody.
I turned into a 30-minute exercising, portion control eating, super foods shake drinking, accountability group sharing, strong as f*ck woman. Who also happened to teach. Who had balance in her life. A system.
And then I saw that I could save money if I signed up to coach.
—> And with that one Email [Yes, I want discounts!] I stumbled into Coaching…
Year 4 – I figured out what I wanted.
For different reasons – personal and professional – Year 4 has been a tough year. Throughout it all, though, was my coaching team. I honestly do not know where I’d be without them. I’d probably be back at Year 1, Part II. #honesttruth
How did coaching make that much of a difference?
This opportunity gave me the power and belief to dare to dream again. It showed me that I have the potential to create a business how and when I want it. And when I actually took a mo’ and envisioned my life – the kind of life I would want if there were no limitations it led me to this…
a lifestyle that would not only fill in those voids, but fill UP my life
—> i saw myself living in a place i adored with those whom i love most
—> i saw myself as my own boss in my own space on my own time
—> i saw myself debt-free and making gains
—> i saw myself traveling and embracing the wanderlust part of my core that’s been tapped down with excuses
—> i saw myself at my healthiest and self-loviest
—> i saw myself working hard as f*ck, and loving every second
—> i saw myself getting out of my own way AND my comfort zone
—> i saw myself leading other women, other teachers, to their own vision
so, how and i am going to get there?
wait for it…
by helping people. especially teachers.
—>those who need a SYSTEM to stay balanced and accountable and freaking happy
—>those who need a space to DREAM again about their life and find a way out of their current lifestyle if they want it
In the end I come back to this : I love my kids. Every single one of them. Always have. Always will.
But I don’t love this teaching lifestyle. And why oh why would I spend 40 years in a job that I don’t love instead of working really hard in a job that allows me to have the lifestyle that I want?!
And one last question : Why would you?
Even if that means you want to teach forever – are you happy where you are with it? Or maybe it means you don’t want to? That’s ok too. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle? Maybe you have another career or lifestyle that’s leaving you with a void – time, money, or otherwise?
You’ve read my story. Send me yours. Let’s fill up our lives together.