A typical day for me starts around 6:45 a.m. when I wake up and get ready to teach. The second my eyes open, I am completely engrossed in thought about my classroom, from what I am teaching to what I’m going to wear that day. And yes, that matters when you are a teacher. It seems like everything I do is impacted by my career as a teacher. I go to school and teach, then come home and plan for the next day. Even when I’m exhausted and head to bed, I’m still thinking about one lesson, one student, one thing I forgot. Once you’re a teacher, you are ALWAYS a teacher.
As I began my career, people who didn’t know I was going into teaching always would say things like, “What do you do for a living?” or “What are you in school for?” I would always proudly tell them I was an elementary education major looking to become an elementary school teacher. Nine times out of ten, their response was, “Oh, yeah, you’re definitely the teacher type. I could have guessed.” It is almost like I wear a sign that flashes: “I am a teacher!”
I see teaching in everything I do and say. When someone asks me if I have kids, instead of realizing it’s just me and my husband at home, I say, “Yes! I have 29!” While an awkward response, to me it is reality. I have 29 kids I see five days a week for longer than their parents do. In a lot of ways it seems that I really do have kids!
If my husband and I can’t decide on where to go to dinner, I find myself holding up my hand and saying, “You have five seconds to make a decision or I will help you make a choice.” Then I begin counting down from five, just like I do with my students that don’t want to listen. He responds, “Yes, Mrs. Lyon.”
Teaching is in every aspect of my life. It is in the way I pause when interrupted and say, “I’ll wait” when others are talking. It is in the way I walk so slowly to match the stride of a third grader. It is in the way I project my voice so that 29 little pairs of ears can hear every word I say even out on the playground. My husband always jokes, but I am always in teacher mode.
However, as I have been a teacher, it has been crucial for me to realize that I can’t just always be in teacher mode. There are still many other “modes” that I need to take care of. It has been so difficult for me to not just completely engross myself in teaching. I have learned that there are times when I just need time for myself. I could feel myself already getting burnt out during my first month of teaching. Sometimes it is okay to put down my plan book, step away from my computer, and just relax. It does wonders for me and makes for a happier teacher. I am sure my (29) kids appreciate it :).
So if you are aspiring to be a teacher, be ready for it to absorb your life, your personality, and you. But also be ready to fight back against the burn out. Your students need a teacher that is not only devoted to them, but is devoted to her or himself. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled in the October 2014 Latter-day Saint General Conference, it is important that we “do what [we] can” and be pleased with our efforts.