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How-To: Develop as a Professional

Reclaiming Your Life Julie Dermody

As a first year teacher, I found it wasn't encouraging to see the veterans not only staying as late as I was each night, but coming back to work on weekends. Would it ever ease up? When I could dream, I often dreamt that the stacks of uncorrected papers were chasing me. But there were many nights when I couldn't sleep as I was worried about certain children, or was busy making a "to do" list in my mind for the next day. What made me consciously plan to "reclaim" my life? It was a combination of things, including, a close teacher friend whose spouse for years felt neglected before their divorce, the sudden death of a colleague, my husband, my children, and my dog. Lets start with the dog.

To reclaim your life, get a dog. This isn't an original thought. I read an entire article devoted to that one concept. How can a dog do this? Well, the author suggested, you can't stay too long in school; the dog has to be let out. You can't work non-stop at your desk at home; the dog has to go out. The dog needs to go for walks, so you go for walks. Before you know it, you get to know your neighbors. At first this is because they comment on your cute dog. But before long, you begin to have daily conversations with them as you pass them with their dogs or you pause at their house to say hi. Yes, I can attest to the fact that a dog definitely helps you to reclaim your life.

The second, and the most effective way to reclaim your life (sorry Fido), is to find a like-minded colleague. Instead of departmentalizing (you doing all the Social Studies and another teacher doing all the Science for example), team-teach with a colleague(s). Discuss units together, make those interdisciplinary connections, and take turns creating the final project plans and rubrics. Plan your students' homework together and rotate being in charge of getting things run off and put together. If two heads are better than one, than two bodies together finding needed resource materials, planning field trips, etc. are the best! It's hard to find time to meet and plan during our hectic workdays, but by doing so you can reclaim your nights and weekends for those things that reflect the priorities of your life.


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