For too long, I have identified myself as an educator.
Of course I paid lip service to the fact that I am also a wife and mother, and that my family always came before my career.
But that was a lie. Mostly to myself.
Words and actions are not equal. It doesn’t matter what you say is most important if your actions don’t reflect it.
And I get it… as educators, we often must LIVE our careers. We take home with us the worries over those kids who need us so much. We must constantly think about how we can help each and every child in our classrooms to move forward in their learning. We tend to love these children as if they were our own (because they kind of are).
This is what has taken me nearly 20 years in education to discover: if I am not my best self in every OTHER aspect of my life, I can’t be the best teacher I can be within the classroom. No matter how much I concentrate on my career… if I’m suffering somewhere else, it shows in the classroom too.
A speaker came to our school a couple of weeks ago to talk to the kids about identity. He said something that has stuck with me every single day since:
“If I am what I do, then I must always do more to be more.” When is it enough?
My perspective before was: If I’m going to be a good teacher, I need to learn more about teaching, connect with other teachers, blog and tweet constantly to reflect and learn, attend edcamps and conferences, present at conferences, keep my name “out there” so I get invited to speak at more conferences, focus on becoming a featured speaker at conferences, reach for that pinnacle of speaking at conferences- the keynote, start writing a book…
Pretty soon, this was all I was doing. Doing more to be more. (Was it always more about becoming a good classroom teacher? Or more about becoming Super Educator?)
And all along, I was growing more and more dissatisfied. My kids grew up somewhere along the way. My relationship with my husband (who, by the way, was extremely supportive of all of it) suffered. I didn’t have a lot of local friends.
Please don’t take this as criticism if your life looks like what I described above. That’s not my intent. This is about me and what hasn’t been working for me.
So… I backed off. A lot. Without quitting any of it, I reduced everything professional, and kicked up everything personal. I’m working way harder at being Michelle than michellek107 or the blogger behind the posts here.
I’ve already written posts about balance between personal and professional life, but I don’t think the balance can be what I thought it should be. 50/50 is rough for me, because the educator part of me is selfish and needy. And because the personal side always gives in.
In addition to the “do more to be more” quote rolling around in my head, I’ve also been thinking about the “oxygen mask on planes” analogy. If I don’t put my mask on first, I’m no good to anyone when the oxygen in the air runs out.
My oxygen ran out.
So, this is what you’ll probably see from me for now…
A lot of tweets from my classroom (@TeamBaldwin)
More personal photos, but fewer posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Fewer face to face sightings at conferences
And most importantly, a happier human being who happens to be an educator.
So, if you ask me to introduce myself, I’ll tell you I’m Michelle. I’m married to Jon who is my favorite person on the entire planet. We have four great kids: Bailey, Jon, Amanda, and Carlye. (The rest of my family is awesome, too… but I’m not listing them now, because that will become a new blog post.)
We have two dogs, Diego and Paco, and they’re pretty spoiled and loved.
I love to sing, play piano and ukulele, read, go to movies, golf, and spend time outside… especially in the mountains.
Oh, and I teach, too. I love teaching so much… but that’s not all there is to me.