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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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ARCHIVES: June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010

RE: Extra time for extra curriculars and more...
Monday, June 29, 2009

I tend to look at my teaching career as an opportunity to broaden my horizons, extra-curricularly speaking. I spent my own high school career totally immersed in my involvement with Air Cadets, leaving me with almost no free time to join clubs in high school. I was a Student Ambassador and went to Leadership Camp, but I never found the time to join the debate team or Reach for the Top, help with our school's charities or apply to be on our Student Council. So, barring anything that requires me to be athletic (I can lead and participate in exercises and figure out strategy, but I'm by no means coordinated enough to be seriously considered a team coach), I'm enthusiastic about becoming a staff advisor to any number of clubs and student initiatives at my future schools.

When I filled out the application form for my B.Ed practicum, I made sure to mention my desire to help with anything LGBTQ- or gender studies-related and any kind of charity fundraisers. I also cited my interest in and experience with studying the First and Second World Wars as proof that I would be ideal to plan a Remembrance Day Ceremony. As you can see, I'm a joiner. I love to throw myself completely into interesting activities, and I love to feel like I'm making a difference. This is part of the reason I decided to become a teacher in the first place.

So tell a person like me that they should volunteer to help out with every activity possible, and they will be the first to do it, 100%. The only thing that worries me about my practicum location next year is that I might be placed in a school that doesn't need me to supervise 6 different clubs.

But putting every ounce of your energy into something can be as much a hindrance as it is a boon. I know I, like every other new teacher, am in great danger of burning myself out, especially if I spend all my nights and weekends at school and my few hours outside of school thinking about school. I've already sort of planned that my life will be on hold for my first two years of full-time classroom teaching, but life doesn't just stay on hold because you demand it. Complicated stuff happens, and it can and does happen when you're a first- and second-year teacher, regardless of what you try to do to keep the chaos at bay.

So what am I going to do to make myself invaluable to my school (so they'll keep me on staff) but still not burn out and make myself miserable in a job I actually love?

I'm not sure. I don't think I have a list for this yet, but I do have some abstract ideas. No, you know what, this is me-- of course I have a list!


How To Get Involved Without Burning Out

1. Find your passion. Instead of donating your time to every club that comes your way, stick to things you really love. If you live and die for volleyball, you probably won't resent spending a weekend at a tournament the way you might for a Mathletes competition. When you've identified your passion, make it your priority. You won't feel as bad turning down the captain of the debate team when you know you're giving your all to the Relay for Life committee.

2. Set limits. Sit down at the beginning of a school year and decide what amount of time and effort you're willing to put into your job. Make sure you subtract time for marking, lesson planning, and other administrative duties in addition to regular school hours. Of course include time for errands and tasks in your non-work life, too. Once you've subtracted these necessities, you'll have a better idea of how much time you can devote to extra-curriculars.

3. Leave time for you. So you've decided to spend Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings helping out with activities at school. Assuming you've devoted all of Wednesday night to marking papers, do you still have time for your yoga class, a date night, time to grocery shop? What about a night to just sit with a glass of wine and a good book? Don't underestimate the importance of a few hours a week set aside to do nothing. Even if every other hour of your week is spent on the go, that you time will give you back your sanity. So maybe cut your extra-curriculars down to two nights a week instead of three.

4. Find a guide. Whether it's your teaching mentor or a bible like The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide, it helps to get advice from someone who's been there. When you feel totally swamped, turning to your guide will help get you back on track.

5. Commiserate. Keeping in touch with fellow B.Ed students is important! Grabbing a beer once a month with your former classmates will give you a chance to compare notes, get a fresh perspective, and feel like you're not as alone as you think. Hey, you know what else is a good source for all of the above? This blog! Keep reading about our experiences and chime in with your two cents-- I promise it'll make us all better teachers.

It's not very long, but those are my thoughts so far. If you think of other tips, use the comments to let us know!

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Courtney posted at 4:50 PM - Comments (0)

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