LIVE & LEARN: Learning Balance, Earning Respect

| August 9, 2015 | 0 Comments | Education

liveandlearnlogoEducators have the hardest job in the world. Imagine spending 7 hours a day, 5 days a week with 30 elementary students? Or being responsible for 197 eighth graders? What about spending the day with 165 freshmen? Okay, I’m a little biased, but I believed that educators have the hardest job in the world—until I spent a week with three children.

I am not married. I am not a parent. I am happy to be single and live in a quiet house. I enjoy “freedom”: staying up late, sleeping late, going out with friends, spontaneous outings, and traveling during the summer. I also have very little conflict when it comes to balancing my work and home life. It’s very normal for me to spend an afternoon planning a new unit or grading papers, with nothing to interrupt my work.

I recently spent a week with three children, ages 13, 11, and 10. WOW! We took the metro into DC to visit the Newseum, went to a movie, played at the pool, visited the Reston Petting Zoo, made cookies, pigged out on junk food, and painted fingernails and toenails. I was EXHAUSTED!

My mind was going in a trillion different directions all week:

“Put your seat belts on.”

“You seriously listen to this kind of music?”

“Stay with me! Don’t walk away! Hold my hand while we get on the train!”

“Leave the cat alone…”

“Look at this – look at that – turn here – go there – look both ways before you cross.”

“You’re hungry? We just ate. What? You have to go to the bathroom? We went an hour ago.”

“It’s 12:34am – GO TO SLEEP! It’s 10:15am – wake up!”

“Put the phone away – silence the phone – turn off the phone – give me the phone!”

NON-STOP! As the week progressed, I began to realize that educators don’t have the hardest job in the world—PARENTS DO. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the week. We kept busy and had tons of fun. But there were times when work stuff came up, and I felt guilty for dealing with it. I tried to do as little work as possible. It was a struggle. I then realized the struggle educators who are parents feel on a daily basis.

Work does not end for educators when they leave for the day. Grading papers, creating lesson plans, and analyzing data are a constant and continue past the work day. Fulfilling these obligations begin in the early morning and continue until late in the evening when a teacher has a family. I’m writing this article at 5:45 a.m., so when the kids wake up, I can give them my full attention.

I have a heartfelt, deep respect for my colleagues who are also parents. The daily struggle to balance family and work, I now understand, is real. I hold this group in high esteem and salute you. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our children in the public schools. Thank you, to the families of educators, who sometimes come in second. It is not intentional.

Is there a solution to better balance?

Riley O’Casey is a local educator who teaches middle school social studies. She is also an active member of the Prince William County Education Association.

This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bristow Beat, its editors, writers or sponsors. 


© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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