I am an introvert.
I am so intensely introverted that I have made the decision as a 27-year-old to continue living with my mother because I know that if I were to live by myself, I could go days without seeing people.
I am intensely introverted. As a teacher. I don’t know if you know this, but teaching is not exactly an introverted profession.
As a new teacher, some of my biggest challenges have come in the form of figuring out how to balance my being introverted and being a good teacher.
The very first thing I learned was the importance of work/life balance. I know this is a challenge that everyone struggles with, but as an introvert, it is essential that I take the time to decompress when I get home. I have to give myself time. For me, this usually turns into napping because napping means shutting off completely, but it can also be browsing Tumblr for awhile or watching mindless TV. Whatever the outlet, the time to check out is incredibly important to my well being.
Relatedly, I have to give myself permission to not do much on the weekends. I love seeing my friends and family and going to do things, but this is not always possible. Sometimes, I need to spend my weekends in my house, watching old episodes of shows I’ve seen a hundred times.
However, there is a time and place for the checking out.
I cannot check out during my lunch or plan periods. Many people use these periods for grading, or for quiet time in their classrooms. I have learned that I cannot do this, because school is a time I spend giving everything I have to my students and if I check out for even a second while I’m there, I go into recharge mode and am no longer capable of giving my students what they deserve. So, I know that during my plan periods, I need to seek out colleagues or run errands around the building, and I know that even on the days when I am the most frustrated, I cannot forego the teacher’s lounge during lunch. My students deserve more from me that someone on autopilot.
It is unquestionable to me that teaching is the profession I belong to. There is nothing I love quite as much or feel nearly as passionate about as the students in my classroom every day. But part of finding happiness in the profession was figuring out how to make it work for me and who I am, which is not easy in the slightest.
Tedi Swanson teaches 6th grade Language Arts in Council Bluffs. She spends most of her time with her Italian Greyhound, Pippa, and thinking about or reading YA Lit.