there's no easy button
This is going to sound really schmoozy but, I loved my job. Like really loved it. I was a teacher for 23 years. And yes, it's not an easy job. But it was easy for me. You know, it was easy to get up every day and go to, because I was lucky, I know I was called to it.
And then one day it wasn't so easy.
I could hardly walk down the hall at the end of each day because my hips and legs were practically crippled from standing and crawling and bending and lifting. During the weekdays I worked and on the weekends and holidays I'd leave one 17 year old son at home to drive my other 15 year old son, who was on the Alberta Freestyle Mogul team at the time, to training and events hours away. My husband ran his own business, working long hours, making it seem like we were ships passing in the night.
I was in the trenches, one foot in front of the other, no time to breathe.
And at the same time my passion for being in the classroom was starting to idle. Still putting a smile on but man was I tired doing it. Along the way though were some itchy feelings ~ a curiosity, a wanting, a wishing ~ to do more with the Instructional Coaching I was already doing with the adults in my school.
I didn't really get it then, but what was happening to me was change. And it didn't feel good. Dissatisfaction was starting to weigh heavy on my joy and satisfaction, and I didn't like living that way. It wasn't who I wanted to be. In my work, my home, my life.
Why? Because I wanted to help somewhere else. And I'm not the only one who's ever felt the feelings I just talked about. In schools everywhere teachers go through the roller coaster of phases each year ~ anticipation, survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, reflection, anticipation ~ do it again. The years just keep going. At some point we start running for our lives spending more time in the survival, disillusionment phases. And in this serving profession of education, where we've got children on our watch, we keep putting everyone else first. Not paying attention to our own human needs. Leading to burnout, exhaustion, impatience, jadedness.
And yet, the fact is educators are leaders. Leaders who care. And to be a daring leader, they need to care for themselves the way that they care for the students and staff around them. Coaching put me in a position where I could dare to lead the way. Here was a space where I could spend time attending to teachers' fears and feelings so that they could move back into being effective, productive and happy. I could make them know that they matter too.
But happiness requires us to be human. Human with real emotions, real vulnerabilities.
And that's never easy.
But by learning, and growing, we just get better at it.