I’m a hot mess teacher and that’s okay

I’ve been MIA on here for awhile, and I thought I’d get on here to explain a little bit of why.

First, the good. Life got crazy. I got engaged and then I got married. We took a trip to Disney World, and are creating our life together. Understandably, life got a bit busy and overwhelming…therefore, I haven’t been able to write on here like I was before.

Now the not so great.

Teaching is a stressful job. If you know my backstory into how I became a teacher, you know I never planned on teaching (and before I started teaching, I never wanted to teach).

I found teaching accidentally, and despite the fact that yes, it is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, I still love it.

I have been a perfectionist my entire life. I always feel I need to be perfect, or have things a certain way. What people also don’t realize, is that perfectionists often procrastinate a lot too from fear of failure or doing something wrong. Of course the fact that I am a teacher doesn’t always help my behavioral tendencies because of course things in a classroom cannot be perfect. I am extremely hard on myself. Harder when it seems I have 50,000 tasks to complete and not enough time to complete them.

Teacher anxiety is real. Especially if you already know you have tendencies towards anxiety.

I’m not writing this post for sympathy or anything like that. It’s simply because I think non teachers often look at teachers and do not understand how our job can be so stressful.

We do not just shape a child’s mind. We shape their lives. There is a lot that goes into it. Worrying, encouraging, disciplining, coaching, serving, listening, speaking, creating relationships, and then teaching. On the academic side, we worry about failing students, how to push our high learners, how to get all the content to fit into one school year, planning, making copies, testing, accommodations, modifications, differentiation, putting kids in groups, creating stations, and so on.

When a teacher leaves school, our brains don’t just shut off. We think and worry about our “kids” because we know not all of them go home to perfect houses with people who love them. We worry about the ones we know may not have food, or if they’ll get a good nights sleep. We wonder how we are going to get our never ending to-do list done. Teachers are faced with so many tasks, it’s almost actually impossible to get them done.

Teaching second grade, I do not teach a grade that’s tested by state tests (STAAR), but I know those teachers face another type of scrutiny as does their students because of a test. Testing season does a number on a teacher’s mental health.

I’ve learned this year that I do have anxiety (even though I’ve known it my whole life), but it got to an all time high. I’ve been extremely stressed, emotional, and not easy to be around sometimes because of it. I even tried anxiety medicine for a week (it gave me terrible side effects and therefore, I decided to stop taking it). I was willing to try anything to make my mental health feel better because I knew I did and do LOVE my job.

Considering I made the decision to not take medicine to help me feel better, I’ve had to try to figure out ways to take care of myself. I realized I rarely was taking anytime for me. Weekends were also taken up by a lot of teaching stuff (ask any teacher, it can consume you because we CARE SO MUCH). I had forgotten stuff I loved to do.

So I started focusing more on ME. I make sure I workout (which is like therapy to me), I do something for myself each week (paint my nails, watch my favorite movie, spend time reading, writing…just SOMETHING). I actually rest on the weekends, and if I absolutely have to do any sort of work I make sure I absolutely do nothing related to teaching at least on Saturdays.

My husband also deserves an award. I couldn’t take care of myself if it wasn’t for him. He makes me relax and do what’s best for me mentally and physically. He steps up and helps me always when needed. He’ll spoil me completely. If you ask him, I’m sure he’d tell you sometimes it’s not easy for me to even let him do things for me because yes the perfectionist in me. I feel like I need to do stuff. So I’ve learned thanks to him to allow someone else to do something for me for a change. He’s truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

So again, I say I don’t write this for sympathy. I write it because the next time you hear or see a teacher take a mental health day off, they deserve it. More teachers than you know deal with anxiety or depression. If you wonder if your child’s teacher is a superhero, they are. Teachers deal with so much more than the outside world sees. That was and still is my biggest eye opener when I became a teacher. There’s so much more to it than standing in front of kids teaching them stuff. Teachers need to learn to take care of themselves, but our society also needs to learn to respect teachers more. What a teacher does in a year helps shape our society.

Give them some respect. Stop trying to take things away from teachers like sick days and retirement. Maybe one day, teachers won’t be thrown so many responsibilities that the legislature keeps putting on us and then wonder why more and more teachers are leaving the field. Maybe one day the endless testing will stop and we teachers can do what we love to do…TEACH and not be so stressed doing it.

I do indeed, LOVE my job. I love my kids. I’d do absolutely anything for any of them.

I just wanted other teachers out there to know…you can be a hot mess and be a great teacher.

-Mrs. Kaldahl

 

 

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One thought on “I’m a hot mess teacher and that’s okay

  1. Sharon Langley says:

    Lauren, you posted my sentiments exactly. I cannot count the nights I stayed up there until 7-8, even 9 PM, working on IEPs, Progress Reports, individual lesson plans for each student, etc. I LOVED my job and my students and I miss them like crazy, but I was so stressed out that my med I take were not even working that last year. I was on extra blood pressure medicine. Larry basically told me I had to retire.
    Being a Hot Mess teacher is just fine. Just keep doing what you are doing. Put God first and everything else will work out.

    Like

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