Today Blythe from The Honey Print is joining us to share some great tips on balancing life as a teacher and following your dreams of your creative pursuit!
As the reading intervention teacher at a rigorous charter school, my day is demanding. I teach 12 different small groups daily in grades K-4, and we have an extended school day. I am in my second year of teaching, and ever since I began my first summer of professional development last July (a requirement at my school), my job has been all consuming.
The longer school year and school day requires heightened energy and enthusiasm. Our population of students needs extra consistency, joy, and love, but our entire staff is hard working, passionate, and up to the challenge.
However, this kind of work can take a toll on one’s personal life. I thought, for a time, that neglecting the rest of my life was not an option. I felt like a teaching machine, and that teaching was all I was and all I did. It wasn’t until this school year when I began to question what I had accepted the previous school year. I realized that although sacrifice for my students was essential, my life was just as important to nurture.
I came to terms with something I’ve always known: teaching is not my only passion. It’s my full-time job, but I have always been a writer, ever since I was little. I majored in creative writing in college. It’s a part of me, and it’s something I discovered I needed to begin again.
I am still learning, but I’ve realized how to start balancing teaching with my creative pursuit—my blog, The Honey Print. My blog is my creative outlet, one where I can exercise my love for writing. If you are a creative person, it is crucial to have an outlet to keep yourself sane and happy. As soon as I started contributing regularly to my blog, it was as though a weight lifted from me—I felt a little lighter at work, and not so completely consumed.
Here was my process to balance full time teaching with a creative pursuit:
When I felt overwhelmed at work, I directly asked if I could have certain tasks taken off of me. My coach was more than willing to work with me and made my load easier. I was nervous to admit that I couldn’t handle how much was being put on me, but it was such a relief to just ask! Your school wants you to be happy and wants you to stay with them. If you aren’t happy about something, tell them. They will want to help you.
After I did this, I was able to leave work at a more reasonable hour and start dedicating time to my blog at home on weeknights and weekends. This was possible just from having a little less work to do outside of the school day.
I also wasn’t afraid to say no when I was asked to take on more after-school responsibilities. I’m currently in graduate school to be a reading specialist, and I knew I couldn’t handle anything else after school. I explained that I just wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to any extra activities. If I had said yes, I would have zero time for writing.
After you clear away anything you don’t absolutely have to do, it’s time to make a plan. How will you start dedicating time to your creative pursuit? Doing this takes strategic, specific, and strict planning.
In the beginning, don’t bombard yourself with an overwhelming schedule. Be realistic, and start small. For instance, try dedicating an hour two times a week to a goal you wish to accomplish. You’ll be pleased if you end up doing more than planned.
Once you get into a rhythm, increase as much time to working on this project as you feel comfortable. Make sure your schedule gets written down somewhere. Keep a calendar, and stick to it. Hold yourself accountable. It will be easier if you commit to the same evenings or times so that you get into a pattern.
Maximize Spare Time
If you find yourself with any spare time, utilize it. For instance, I got sick last week with strep throat and had to miss two full days of school. What did I do? I went beyond my blog schedule and planned ahead. I wrote and wrote so that I would be prepared if I got into a bind later on.
Any time you find a free moment – perhaps plans get cancelled, or you wake up earlier than usual on a Saturday – don’t let it go to waste. I even use idle 5-minute chunks of time to catch up on responding to Instagram and blog comments – like when I’m waiting on a friend who is late, waiting at a doctor’s office, or when I just get home from work.
Celebrate Every Success
Keep yourself motivated by celebrating every advance you make in your pursuit, no matter how small. It can become easy to be discouraged or overwhelmed when undertaking something new. Just remember that every new project takes time and patience. Do what you can, and don’t stress beyond what you are capable of.
I hope this helps! Would love to hear your thoughts or what works for you over at The Honey Print.