Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crispy Critter

It's Sunday.  Ho hum.  I hate Sundays, but less so now that I am not teaching.


I better explore that.  I LOVE teaching.  I LOVE working with kids.  But the reality is, I am FRIED.  Crispy Critter, am I.  

How does one become fried?  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  We have all read about keeping balance, managing stress. Yadda, yadda.  
Some of us are better at this than others and I have boiled it down to 3 reasons.

1. Temperament
2. Work environment (this includes colleagues, school climate, administrative support and involvement)
3. Healthy personal life


When I look at my very well thought out, profoundly insightful and 100% correct list of factors that determine burnout, I feel that number 1 is probably the best indicator.

This makes sense, no?  Let's just use me as an example.  I am very intense about everything I do. Every. Single. Thing.  I am just as intense about job related issues when I am employed in a minimum wage job as I am as a teacher.  Really.  Ask Hub.  Annoying. So very annoying to those I live with.
I react emotionally to everything. ALL OF IT.  And my reactions are big.  Many I keep to myself, but they are big in my head and heart even if not expressed.  I can pick up on the minute nuances of all the moods of every person in a room, a meeting, the grocery store! for God's sake.  I swear I can pick up on the emotional state of women across the oceans.  If I sit still when these waves hit me, I can actually see (in my mind's eye) the woman/women whose feelings I am feeling.  Creepy. Imagine being me.
No, I am not psychic.

But when my students feel joy, frustration, pain, loneliness... I feel it.  No.  I really feel it.  Like every cell in my body reacts.  It's like I am them. This is why I am fried.  18 years of this. 

But this is exactly what makes me especially good at what I do.  And we all agree I am unusually good at what I do.  I feel it.  I get it.  I can empathize, sympathize and understand.  It is what allows me to take just the right human action needed to get my kids through stuff others can't.  And even though I feel it as if I were them, I can dissociate enough to problem solve objectively.

No point system, no behavior rating sheet, no token economy, no recipe management system can beat that.  None.

On to number 2.  Work environment.  Colleagues, school and district climate need no further exploration.  Administrative support is crucial.  Support means that they get what a day in the life of you is all about.  They know how to guide you, manage the school's issues, handle parents for you, and most importantly........ drum roll......... they need to respect you as THE EXPERT of your domain.

Now, number 3.  Let's not even go there today. It's Sunday, for God's sake and the day will only turn ugly if I start examining my personal life.

So it's off to baking cookies with Superman.  The peanut butter ones with a big kiss in the middle.  Health food, you know?   Protein, fiber, antioxidants.

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Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.