3 Things I Changed When I Burned Out Again: Part 2 of I Was Burned Out

Have you ever heard of a little boat called the Titanic? Of course you have. It started out as a triumph. Big, beautiful, unsinkable. And then it sank. On its first trip. The captain and its crew, as well as the passengers, thought it was invincible. It could take on anything. That ship could do it all. That's what I thought I could do when I graduated college.

Now, I am no history buff and I certainly don't know all of the facts about the Titanic or the sinking of the ship, but I saw Titanic in the theater when I was 15 and that makes me expert enough for today's post.

My point in using the Titanic as a metaphor today is that I want you to visualize yourself as the ship. (You knew that was coming.) But my other comparisons may surprise you. The captain and crew? They are your intentions. The passengers? Your abilities. We, as teachers, start out believing that we can do anything. Our crew is good. Our passengers trust our crew, just as our abilities trust our intentions. Our passengers believe whatever the crew tells them. Even if that crew is dead wrong or even LYING to them.

As teachers, our intentions are always good, but we consistently overestimate our human abilities. I waited until my 8 1/2 year mark to jump ship. (Pun intended.) But... water-logged, I climbed back in. Luckily, my crew and passengers didn't all perish, but they were badly injured.

I sobbed when I applied for teaching positions after we all lost our jobs at the non-profit. Even after I accepted my current position, I had to take a drive to sob some more. I couldn't believe that I was going back. I didn't sleep, because I was already stressing out about all of the things that I knew would be asked of me as an educator. And because I was a twinge excited. As teachers do, I began planning my room set-up in my mind, and what my day would look like. My personality lends itself to want to be the best and my intentions CONSISTENTLY outweigh my abilities. In August, I went all in just as I knew I would and by October, my ship started sinking again.

Around October, I was seriously struggling. I loved my school. I loved my kids. My teaching partner was phenomenal and my administration was supportive and pleasant to be around. So what was my PROBLEM? I was falling into what I KNEW school to be from my previous experience, not what it actually was for me now. I had been staying up late grading and planning, talking negatively at home about anything that I could knit-pick at, and I surely wasn't happy about the time that my principal gave me feedback on my evaluation that was less than perfect. I couldn't get through a conversation with him without crying. One day, after leaving school crying AGAIN, it hit me. My problem was ME. I was sinking my own ship! My passengers didn't believe in my crew, and even my crew didn't believe in my ship. So the ship just stopped. That's when I realized that I was doing three things incredibly wrong:

1. I didn't have an end in mind. Stephen Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to think of your funeral. What would you want people to say about you there? Did I want these nice people who barely knew me to say that I was a negative, over-worked, crybaby? Hell no! I turned off the negativity and took action. If I think negative thoughts(which isn't often), I just don't say anything at all. In fact, I don't say much anymore unless I am asked, because who was I in the first place to not just sit back and shut my mouth, listen, and learn from people who had been there for years and were still loving their job?

2. I was not working smart ENOUGH. I mean, my partner and I worked well together and we got along incredibly. But I was still making A LOT of extra work for myself. I had technology tools that I wasn't trying to make work for me and questions that I wasn't asking. I'm lucky to work in a school that clearly lays out their expectations and resources. So, I used my resources, and I asked questions. My work load cut down significantly, and I have this blog to prove it.

3. I made time a commodity. I know how important it is to be part of a school community. I value my principal who makes this number one in our school. I am lucky to be part of this community, but I had to remind myself that this was my job, not my home. I was getting to school at 7:15 and not leaving until 5:30 most nights. Then, I would go home, rush my kids to bed and then work until 11:00. I came in on the weekend and worked again those nights too. Sound familiar? I almost NEVER bring work home with me anymore. It can wait until tomorrow. Or Monday.

The end I have in mind for me is to be someone who came to work, made kids' days fun and productive, was nice to my coworkers, helped when I could, listened carefully without panicking, and was pleasant to work with. What's your END?

If you have never read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you are seriously missing out on some soul-searching awesomeness. This book really did change my life. There are also some great summaries out there on the www, if you want the short version of the book!

Comment below or email me at support@burnedinteacher.com and tell me what your "End in Mind" is. What do you WANT your coworkers to say about you? What steps are you willing to take to get to that end?