In this episode, Ellen interviews Shailee, a high school teacher who took some time away from teaching in order to figure out how to balance her passion for making an impact with having a life of her own. 

“It’s realising I can be very good at what I do, I can enjoy what I do, without being what I do.”

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Here’s just a few of Shailee’s insights: 

I felt like I was really just overcommitting. …I was at school more than I was at home or doing things that I wanted to do. It was like my job was my life.

A lot of your failure is gonna happen there (first year) and when you’re a high achiever that is the worst thing, you don’t want to fail, but it’s part of our job to figure out what  works for you as a teacher. In your first year you’re really developing your own style.

I needed to get back into an environment where I could figure out what it was that I wanted.

Nobody gives you a 7 or an A or a distinction after your first year of teaching.

(On famous teaching movies like Mr Holland’s Opus and Dead Poet’s Society) When you look at the back stories, they’re not really very pleasant… their personal lives really quite suffered for it.

I don’t wanna be a martyr, I wanna be a good teacher, and I think there’s a difference.

Once I started to realise that and I approached the way that I am within my school in that way, it’s a weight that comes off. And you can allow yourself to enjoy life outside of it, and enjoy work, and then it becomes a happier place to be. It doesn’t mean you don’t have stressful days,… it just means that you allow yourself to separate from that.

There are so many stresses and so many expectations and you need to be able to deal with it. And everyone has their own way. You need to make sure that you are healthy physically and mentally and emotionally in order to do your job well.

I actually quite enjoy it now because it’s not my life. It’s my job and I really like my job and I love my students and the people that I work with. And it’s a lot different to when I was in my first couple of years and I thought ‘this is the be all and end all’.

That is one of the most wonderful things about our career. There are some people who will work for 40 years and the only thing they have to show for it is a paper trail. I’ve been working for 4 and a half years and I’ve made an impact on this student. I could retire tomorrow and  at least I would know that I’ve done something. That is the beautiful thing about our job, we affect so many people.

Have questions, comments, episode ideas or want to volunteer to be a guest on the show?

Get in touch with the Self-Care for Teachers team at hello [at] selfcareforteachers [dot] com [dot] au

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