Three weeks ago during our three-day Teach For America orientation for first-year teachers, all program directors gave presentations on Personal-Professional Alignment (PPA). The purpose of the session was to acknowledge that teaching is time-consuming and will lead to stress at certain times (a lot of times). Our responsibilities as adults is to recognize signs of stress, realize what we need to do to maintain balance in our own lives, and what to do when common stress relievers don't work. Throughout the session on PPA, we gave suggestions like planning ahead and not leaving things to the last minute, making sure you maintain a healthy diet, taking time to exercise, get enough sleep, and sometimes, just knowing when to stop working.
I thought these were very obvious, but very useful ideas. Teachers need those reminders.I felt like I was imparting pearls of wisdom to these eager first-year teachers. Surely after two years of teaching, I was expert enough in avoiding and dealing with stress. After all, I was in charge of delivering a session on it.
So of course, it only makes sense that I haven't worked out in six weeks, had a meal at home (other than cereal and take-out) for five weeks, and calculated 95 hours of work last week. After week four of that lifestyle (a few days after the PPA session), I had an inkling that I was stressed out. But I kept going, because my work was my responsibility and I accepted and believed in it. I didn't bother heeding the advice I imparted on the teachers of eating properly, working out or stopping after a certain hour. I kept going, because I figured I could.
Until I was forced to stop and remember what PPA means. It means work-life balance. It means taking care of yourself. It means taking care of those around you.
On Wednesday, I booked a ticket to fly back that afternoon to Maryland to take care of my mother who is ill. Despite facing another round of projects to complete, documents to prepare, and helping teachers who start teaching on Monday, my mother being sick jolted me into remembering that my dedication to the work I love only goes as far as it allows me to dedicate myself to the people I adore.
The alignment of our personal and professional lives is a conversation I think we should continue to address monthly. What are some aspects of PPA readers would be interested in exploring?