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Blessings and Demons

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I had an unexpected blessing a couple of weeks ago. My home computer was broken. I shouldn’t use the passive tense – actually I tripped on the power cord and yanked it onto the floor. For some reason, it won’t work anymore.

This has been a problem. Since I am a special ed department chair, a lot of my work involves the internet. We use an online IEP program; I can write documents, schedule meetings, and contact parents or staff members from home. I can work ten hours at school, then come home and do another hour or two. I usually spend 5-6 hours over the weekend on the computer as well.

It’s not that I am over-dedicated or extremely organized. I feel as though this extra time “at work” has just barely kept me afloat in my new job. It’s become a habit. After dinner I sign onto our Internet system and get to it.

The blessing of the unfortunate computer accident is that I can’t use a computer at home. For the first time this year, when I go home I can’t keep working. I’ve had to develop other habits. Like sitting after dinner with my husband and talking, or watching TV. I sometimes read a book – one I have chosen. I take a walk as the sun sets. I relax.

I come into work the next day feeling refreshed. I’m rested. I’m sleeping better because I’m not thinking about work right before I crawl into bed.

Well, the blessing was short-lived, as I have now have school laptop which can I can take home. I can sign-on and work anytime. I’m hoping that I have learned a lesson, though, about controlling the Work Demon.

I picture that Demon as a cartoon tumbleweed kind of thing, always in motion. There is always so much that has to be done. Everything is important. Everything we do as teachers and administrators directly impacts the life of a child, and nothing is more sacred. The teacher’s world keeps tumbling around and around, never-resting. We must stop the way we let ourselves be blown by the wind, always going along. We have to compartmentalize our activities; separating work and home, school community and family, or we will lose ourselves.

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I appreciate both blessings and demons. The pressure of my job pushes me, and I enjoy it. But I have learned that breaks are necessary, because rest brings strength.

Take a break. Rest. Let the Demon rest. Rediscover your own blessings this week. Disconnect the wires that connect your home to your school for a couple of days. Happy Thanksgiving.


4 Comments

I am in total agreement about the hours required to be even minimally meet job requirements. I teach at an inner city high school. Needless to say, I am on my toes every minute of class time, much of which is used for attempting to motivate and contain classes that are difficult to say the least. Recently our interim superintendent talked of working a 40 hour week. What planet is he on? I am working 6 days a week. And, each day is a ten hour day, leaving me too exhausted to mark papers, until 5 am the next day, when my head has cleared.

I am in total agreement about the hours required to be even minimally meet job requirements. I teach at an inner city high school. Needless to say, I am on my toes every minute of class time, much of which is used for attempting to motivate and contain classes that are difficult to say the least. Recently our interim superintendent talked of working a 40 hour week. What planet is he on? I am working 6 days a week. And, each day is a ten hour day, leaving me too exhausted to mark papers, until 5 am the next day, when my head has cleared.

As a Masters of Education student, I understand what your demon is. I come home from school where I have worked about 7 hours and get on the computer for about 2 to 3 hours for online classes.

Work demons only rule your life if you allow them admittance. As a Grandmother of 7, wife, former Masters' student, and Middle School Math and Science teacher, I too have had my dealings with the demon. Sometimes the "domestic demons" can compete with the "professional demons", and neither one should, in my opinion, overshadow the other. There should be a balance, which can only be struck by scheduling time for each.

As much as I would like to keep a sparkling house, see my grandkids 7 days a week, get A+ on every online paper I submit, and correct every stitch of paper assignments my students hand in, I know it is not practical, nor possible to accomplish. I used to get up at 4:30am, sign onto my online college, do my assignments, then correct papers until 7:55, begin teaching at 8:00, have a 40-min prep to photocopy, correct, etc., tutor for and hour and a half after school, meeting attendance, return home to cook, do laundry, clean up, then back to correcting papers, checking online blogs to respond to, planning for the next day, etc. until 10:00. Mine was an 18 hour day. Through all this, my son and his wife came to live with us through a particularly difficult pregnancy. When he left to buy a house, my daughter moved in with her 2 children, as she had divorced a man who drained her penniless, and I had a mild heart attack. WARNING: keeping up a pace such as this can be dangerous to your health.

Be realistic, Set goals that are attainable and necessary, then trim off the rest. In college we used to call it "fudge factor". Do your best and leave the rest to God.

Good luck!!!!

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