Originally created 09/17/06

Balancing school, home proves difficult



EDITOR'S NOTE: McKenna Hydrick is a first-year teacher at Silver Bluff High School. She teaches English I and English II to ninth graders. She is sharing her diary in this column each week.

I have been struggling lately with how to simultaneously manage my teaching life and my personal life.

I guess a better phrase to use here is how to separate my teaching and personal life; they seem to collide at every turn.

I know now what veteran teachers mean when they say that teaching is a way of life. I go home and I'm exhausted. In most jobs, home is where you can relax and take a breather.

But I still have 150 papers to grade and enter in the grade book.

I still have to read the stories I'm teaching the next day.

I still have to get the movie clip prepared.

And then, it's 7 p.m., dinner is burning and I still haven't even said hello to my husband.

I don't at all feel sorry for myself. I asked for it when I finished my master's degree, got married and started my first year of teaching - all within three months of each other.

But I could never have imagined the utter exhaustion I would feel.

Nonetheless, I'm learning every day what works and doesn't work in my classroom and my home.

Candy works for positive reinforcement.

Telling students they are disrespecting you does not make them decide to be quiet.

DiGiorno pizza for dinner works.

Leaving a blue pen in the pocket of your pants that are now in the washing machine does not work.

Letting students choose novels to read for pleasure works.

Letting students choose groups for collaborative activities usually does not work.

Crock-pot meals work.

Having no dishwasher certainly does not work.

Merging these two new life experiences has been one of the most difficult feats I have ever encountered.

It seems like no matter what I do, someone suffers.

If I prepare for school, I don't get to spend any time with my husband.

If I spend time with my husband, my students have an unprepared teacher.

I guess that's what I've been afraid of, because I have been maintaining both.

I'm just flat out tired, and both my students and my husband deal with a short-tempered, drained person.

I have learned, however, that right now I just need to make things manageable.

I won't be perfect at either this year, or ever. I just need to take it step by step, one moment at a time.

Teaching and marriage will get easier - right?

Well, you know what I mean. Next year, I'll have a year of plans and a collection of recipes and household how-to's.

They will get easier as long as I'm learning how to pick my battles. I can't let a red shirt in a load of whites make me cry.

I can't let a disastrous lesson make me feel like a failed teacher.

All in all, I'm learning how to be a wife, to inspire lives and to survive this thing we like to call life.