At the end of 2014, just when I thought life was beginning to settle down a bit, I gained a ministry scholarship for a post grad diploma in specialist teaching. Life as I knew it was about to disappear. I really had no idea what to expect, and to be honest; I was naïve about the amount of time it would involve. As well as teaching, I’m part of the leadership team and also SENCO for years one to eight, so, I worked about 50 hours a week.
At the beginning of the year, we moved onto our new campus and team taught with a new group of people in our learning communities. Our team had 75 students, six teachers and one teacher aide. It was hectic. Then, for reasons unrelated to school, I had to go to Wellington for a few weeks. This was extremely stressful, but made easier through the support of colleagues, friends and family. By the middle of the year, my studies were floundering. I felt that I was losing control, and I felt that I might end up with a big bill if I dropped out of my studies. The pressure was building.
By the time September rolled around, I was feeling the strain. I had resisted talking to my university advisors, because I was beginning to question my own competency. However, there came a point where I had to. Of course as soon as I did I wondered why I hadn’t done this earlier. They were wonderful, understanding and supportive. They suggested plans to help me get through it all. One idea, which I initially fought, was to only complete one paper in 2015. However, this turned out to be a life (mind, body and soul) saver. Hence, my one word goal for 2015 ‘balance’.
I look back at 2015 and am very thankful for the team I worked with. They supported me by just getting on with it. When I was away in Wellington on leave, they sent texts, emails and packages to support my family and me. I can’t express enough how this impacted on my well being. When you have a small family, it’s hard to share the load. I will always be grateful. But how was I going to get some balance in my life in 2015?
I have learnt to ask for help, ask for advice, let other people do things and let some things go. I work smarter, not longer. Our team has found better ways to communicate, so I don’t have to be at school quite as much. I introduced a study night at school for staff who were studying. I have started taking the time to walk again. I think carefully about what needs to be done and what can wait, or can be missed altogether.
So, does my life feel more balanced? Do I feel more in control? Have I achieved my goal this year? I will answer that with another question, what is balance and do I need to be in control all of the time? I think the key was to become more mindful of what’s going on for me and act accordingly.