Tuesday, October 27, 2009

As a teacher...

It's hard to always be positive. The more I challenge students, the more the parents challenge me about grades. The more time I spend working on things for the classroom, the less time I have on my own writing.

I confessed to Mark Doty (a few weeks ago at his reading/craft talk) that teaching at the high school level sometimes, many times drains me. He said that I have to be able to on occasion say, "Make this. Okay good, now go make another one."

And then there is Facebook, and being department head, and....you get it. I'm always so friendly and optimistic. I'm full of ideas and help.

I'm not sure where I can really be myself. I don't even allow complaints on my blog either, really.

The truth is, I am mostly optimistic and I do truly love helping students, but somewhere in the past near decade I have lost the ability to allow myself the once-in-a-while public sigh. Or the, "I'm sorry, I just don't have time." As a result of this public image martyr syndrome, the people closest to me suffer.

For me, being a great teacher means being an okay writer, a sometimey friend, an unfocused girlfriend, and a distant daughter. Add running into the equation and time is even more scarce. I must find balance. There are so many wonderful teachers who are also wonderful at their other roles in life. I must figure this out.

6 comments:

Sara said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, too. Seems there's never enough energy for everything I want out of life. Unfortunately, I tend to withdraw from real people in order to have energy for my students and coworkers.

But I'm all about the public sigh. :) Woe is me.

John said...

Somewhere I read that good children should go on to try and do good outside the home and that parents understand that this means their focus and commitment needs to be elsewhere.

As far as the rest our focus goes, every little bit will just have to be enough.

I don't know what being a writer means. I don't think it's as mysterious as everyone makes it out to be. It doesn't need to be esoteric and mystical, although sometimes it does because sometimes that's interesting. Like, in a moment I'm going to press a button and these words will appear, and though I don't understand html programming, I understand that this publication is as much my voice as any other thing I've written. Here it is and that's got to mean something.

Jennifer Sullivan said...

Sara- It's nice to know that it's not just me who withdraws from the world. And maybe the public sigh would be beneficial to my attempt to earn balance.

John- Maybe I have been stuck or stuck myself in that realm where I think being a writer means writing all the time or having everything but my writing life be a mess. You're right. Whatever it means to be a writer doesn't have to be a mystery. It doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, nor does it need to be something elite.

Of course, I can say what it isn't, but I'm not sure I know what it means to be a writer either.

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Snowdrop said...

Life's all about balance and choice.

If you chose to be a damn good teacher - then great, that's what matters - I am sure your friends and family and anyone else that you feel you neglect simply admire you for it.