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Friday, September 24, 2010


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I taught first, second and fourth grades before taking a sabbatical as a software trainer for a year - traveling all over the US of A and seeing a lot of the insides of airports, airplanes, hotel rooms, and conference rooms. I have since returned to teaching (just a glutton for punishment, I guess), and currently teach 3rd grade. I also work very hard at being my nieces' and nephews' favorite aunt by spoiling them shamelessly.

As I was getting ready for school to start this year, I hung a sign on my classroom wall that a friend gave me a few years ago. "Simplify". I decided that this would be my code to live by during the school year. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and want to create great lessons and experiences for my students, so I spend a lot of time at school. Unfortunately, I do not have enough hours in the day to do all the things I would like to do at work and keep a balance in my life.

Enter first day of school. I began the school year already falling "behind" as I wasn't able to have everything done that I wanted to before the daily demands of a teacher's life took over. But you can't stop time. Or beg for just one more week. I tried it. The clock just kept ticking.

Ever since then, I have been working a lot of overtime hours and bringing work home in the evenings and on the weekends, and feeling like one of those cartoon characters who is running so fast their feet are a blur but they aren't moving anywhere - all they are doing is creating a big hole to sink down into. Rather than "catching up", I have barely been getting the things done I need to from day to day, with more and more being added to the "back burner" for a "later" that never comes. I have tried to figure out why this is. Certainly there is more than ever expected of teachers, as we deal with larger class sizes and less prep time (1 1/2 hours a week when you are teaching at least 8 lessons a day just doesn't quite cut it). But also I think I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get my feet under me in a new grade.

Well, this week I came to the point where I realized living like this has got to stop. I am tired (literally) of not getting enough sleep and having to drink a Diet Coke to get through a day. I am tired of never having any real down time during the week. I am tired of extra responsibilities at work that take away from my classroom preparation. I am tired of feeling scatterbrained and forgetting and misplacing things. I am tired of always rushing around and ending up being late anyway. I am tired of a seriously cluttered house and car that I don't have time to clean. I am tired of not leaving work at work. I am tired of not having time or energy to exercise or read my scriptures or go to the temple. Can you tell I am just tired?

So, anyway, back to the code, "Simplify", which I have forgotten in the mad rush of school starting. A couple of friends this week have reminded me to take a step back and figure out what I can do to lighten the load. How I can chip away at the mountains of "back burner" items that constantly weigh on my mind. And they have reminded me to not take life so seriously. Take time to go for a drive. To go out to eat. To laugh. To stay in bed on a Saturday morning and read a book. To get a massage. That it is OK to let go of some things, even though they might be good things.

I am going to simplify my life. Starting now.


Sue said...

You sound just like my sister.

Yep, she's a teacher, too. (What would we do without all of you?)

Thanks. And I hope you can find ways to simplify.


Gerb said...

I didn't comment before, so I will now. Love this, Janelle! I need a huge ol' SIMPLIFY sign on every wall in my house.

Farscaper said...


I feel so overwhelmed some days I just want to scream. I have my list of things I wish I could get to but life keeps getting in the way of life.

Good luck!! I hope you figure out what to keep and what to let go of. I know it can be hard when you're a perfectionist.

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

I am a preschool teacher and so working at a private school I see the 'real' :) teachers daily!! I am always amazed at what they do and how unaware parents are!!!! I have no advice but just want to tell you that as a teacher YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!
am a new follower by the way!! nice to re meet you all..I had stopped by a long time ago..:)

Teachinfourth said...

Wonderful words, Janelle! I think I have felt this way on more than one occasion. Thank you for penning the words I felt inside.

Here's go simplification!

VM Sehy Photography said...

I feel for you. I was an overflow aide last year at my son's school. I don't know how teachers get anything done without an aide. I think every teacher should have at least one, and forget the overflow. Short of having maybe 10 kids in a class, you'd never be able to keep up on the grading and the bulletin boards and the prep needed for art projects. It's nuts. Hang in there. I can tell you care about your students, but you need to take care of yourself, too, and not burn out. I'm impressed with anyone who would take on the job of teaching. It's harder than it looks.

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