64 Weeks Out – A Good Week for a Deload

It was a deload week in the gym, so nothing exciting happened there.  But life continued to be stressful.

The transfer period for current teachers to move between schools opened on Monday.  This was a really hard decision for me.  It took a lot of soul searching to make it.  I love my current school.  I love my students.  I have worked very, very hard to empower kids to do pretty hard math.  But there is a downside.  I transferred to this school nine years ago to do work a certain way.  It was an innovative and ambitious initiative.  It was working.  And then politics… and, POOF, we got restructured and stopped doing that work.  It’s been three years since we de-evolved and each year I’ve become more restless, feeling more isolated, and becoming more disengaged with what’s going on around me.  I’ve been keeping to myself in my room, teaching my kids, and continuing my personal journey in fitness.  But I’m not happy at work.  It’s like buying a ticket on a big cruise ship that changed direction and is heading somewhere I don’t want to go.  2014 is apparently a year of change for me.  Time to explore other opportunities.  I may not leave my school.  It’s possible that after looking around, I will want to stay, and if that happens, I’ll be committed to going where the boat is going.

On Monday, I visited the middle school close to my home.   A friend is an assistant principal there.  He showed me around and told me a little about the work they do.  He was so proud of his staff and excited about their work.  He also explained to me how moving from a high school to a middle school was a great decision for him.  This wasn’t an interview, but it reminded me of the interview I had to come to my current school.  It was upbeat and positive.  There were people there who were clearly passionate about the school and cared about kids.  By the end of that interview, I was in tears and practically begged them to hire me.  On Monday, I left that middle school thinking that the interview for this one might just go the same way.  Will this be my next and last school of my career?  I don’t know.  I don’t have the interview set yet, but I’ve been notified that they want to do it.  Hopefully it will be next week.  I think changing levels might be a good decision for me, too.   I read through some 8th grade math standards today and got pretty excited because I imagined the lessons I would use.  There are so many tools in my toolbox that I haven’t used since I taught geometry.  Just need to dust them off.

Fast forward to yesterday, Friday.  I had an interview at another high school.  I didn’t prepare for the interview.  I was curious and wanted to learn more, but I went into it suspecting that I wouldn’t want to work there.  They wanted to observe me teaching and set a time for Thursday during the last 20 minutes before lunch.  And then they were 10 minutes late!  I had to keep adjusting the lesson so they would get to see something useful.   They only saw the last 5 minutes of my lesson and then got to watch me hand out report cards and excuse kids to lunch.  Only one of the four would talk to me and the rest just stared at me when I spoke to them.  It seemed like a chore for them.  That was a big red flag, so the only thing I did for this interview was change into a dress.  At the interview, I was asked six questions.  Of the six, only one was about instruction and working with kids.  Everything else was either about Common Core and how I would work with the adults.  Collaboration and compliance seemed to have a higher value than effective instruction.   I looked at the people interviewing me – really looked at them.  They were tired.  They were dispassionate.  No one talked about how cool their school is and how excited they are about what they are doing.   I knew when I left that I didn’t want that job and that they weren’t going to offer it to me.

Even though things are pretty nuts right now, I haven’t missed workouts and I’m seeing progress.  Doing a pretty good job with food.  Stress isn’t good for my body composition at all.  Stress raises cortisol and elevated cortisol means abdominal fat.  Saw this coming.  Looking at the calendar, I think I will be through the worst of my stressors in a couple of weeks.  Still over a year out from competition, so I’m not too concerned.  I used to live under this kind of stress for years, and we know how that turned out.  I won’t go back to that.  It’s possible that I may not be able to continue to be a teacher if the expectation is that I will put myself back into that unhealthy place to do the job.  People at work talk the talk – “balance is important”, “take care of yourself”, “what you’ve done is amazing”, yada, yada, yada – but when push comes to shove, the expectation is still to kill yourself slowly to do the job.  I found out that one of the tired teachers on my interview panel is teaching four different classes, collaborating with other teachers for all of them, coaches a sport, and has a new baby.  I see younger teachers do this all the time.  I see administrators do the same.  It was an administrator that called me today – on a Saturday.  Working long hours and putting teaching ahead of life has been expected, encouraged, and rewarded by colleagues, administrators, and society.  Remember the film “Stand and Deliver”?   He had a heart attack.  I have colleagues with serious health issues right now.  Stress compromises health.  Period.   But until there is some standardized test with data to collect about the health of teachers, kids will likely have a tired and stressed out adult in the room teaching “objectives” instead of teaching kids.  Rant. Over.

Apparently, I still have to protect my boundaries and keep my focus.  I also need to keep reminding myself that all of these events are guiding me to the place I’m supposed to be.

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5 Comments

Filed under Cortisol, Life, Teaching

5 responses to “64 Weeks Out – A Good Week for a Deload

  1. This post was an eye opener for me! I am a first year teacher, and part of my motto in this first year was to NOT lose myself and to keep myself healthy. As much as I love my kids and I love teaching music, I notice some of the same things happening around me: standards and objectives and numbers are surpassing the importance of the students and there well being. Harumph.

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  2. I’m looking for new opportunities too! I’m kind of done with high school after 8 years and am looking toward middle school. Congrats to you on the potential middle school you are interested in – I say that because it’s exciting that you might have that opportunity and you sound excited about it. I just put in my applications to different districts but don’t really know when to expect to hear about interviews and don’t really have many connections.

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    • Well, that’s a coincidence! In our district, we are only doing voluntary transfers now. Anyone from outside the district won’t be able to apply until this phase is done. Maybe your area works the same way? I had my interview today. It went a lot better than the one I described here. Almost all the questions were about teaching. No matter how it turns out, I was impressed with how these folks did the process.

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