When I first started teaching and I realized how much work teaching truly can be, and how it's a choice how much of life that we commit to it, I realized that this would not be an easy balance to create. I find that this is a struggle that never really goes away; it just takes different shapes and forms depending on the point in life that you find yourself in.
Today, for example, I realized that I have, once again, confused my job/students with actual life. It was an easy downward spiral. My boyfriend got stationed in Italy, I started to have some family issues (that were more easily avoided if I didn't show up to deal with them), and my most immediate friends were busy for several weekends in a row. That said, I just kind of slipped into my teacher pants and never really took them off.
As I've said before, the job of a teacher never ends. There is always another project to create, assessments to finagle, papers to grade, students to counsel, after school activities to participate in, etc, etc, etc. Often times I measure my success as a teacher by how many of these things I am actively engaged in.
The problem is: burnout is not a myth! In order to be the most productive and successful teacher, we need to take a break...for ourselves, and for our students. This, if nothing else, keeps us from getting resentful of the ever-present amount of work that goes into this crazy profession.
Today I went to the mall for a couple of hours. I talked to random sales people and smiled at random passersby and just generally felt like I was part of the human race for a little while. Sometimes a cute shared story among strangers is enough to make us realize that we need to expand our horizons and become a more complete person. Sometimes it would do us well to give ourselves experiences such as this on a regular basis just to wake us up out of our teacher fog.