Burn brightly … forever


Three more months and that would have made one year of no teaching posts. ONE YEAR!!!
Well, I have been busy. Busy on so many different fronts I’ve run the risk of going bananas quite many times. I just cannot do anything half-heartedly. It’s either all in or nothing at all. I’ve been knitting, writing, taking lots of photography classes, living my life of a mom and wife, switching into Estonian, Swiss, English mode, getting excited about myriads of things, wanting to live and love with all the intensity I can muster. But boy, does that get exhausting! It’s like burning with a very bright flame but ending up in ashes way too fast!

I taught and PLN-ed in sixth gear all through the last year. Additionally, I got my first job as a teacher trainer, visited, analyzed, gave feedback on lessons, gave my first conference talk, wrote numerous blog posts, bought and borrowed stacks of books on teaching and tested different innovative activities and techniques with my students. I got to a level of that unhealthy excitement a child experiences when tickled right before the bedtime. I was mad! Happy, but over-excitedly nuts.

Then summer came, school stopped and I got all  excited about all the other things.

Returning to school was tough this year. I felt inadequate, out of sync, not enthusiastic enough, and thus, not satisfied with my own performance. You know, giving myself a truly hard time. But even though it took some time, the teacher in me has been stirring, waking and stretching her muscles. And finally last week, after returning to regular reading of the posts of my dear PLN members, I felt the teacher hat like some magician’s top hat swallow me completely 🙂 I feel alive and kicking again. My reflective practice journal has been dusted, my enthusiasm made me smile while correcting my students’ papers and I got an urge to come and write this post on a Sunday when the sun is high up in the sky and the November warmth is softly caressing anyone’s cheek who is sane enough to go for a stroll (not me!).

But I don’t want to just turn a new page. What kind of a teacher am I if I cannot learn from my own mistakes?! I know I tend to jump right into the action discarding everything else, including my own sanity and health. And knowing myself, the same burn-brightly-till-the-ashes scenario can all to easily repeat itself.

So that’s where the tricky part starts. How to continue teaching in an enthusiastic, fulfilling, satisfactory way, yet keep parts of myself for other activities and other people beside my students and colleagues? How to preserve myself as long as possible? How to live and teach, not live to teach?

Even though I am tempted to rush wholeheartedly into the game again, I try to tread carefully. Maybe I should start weekly planning where time is allotted for different parts of my life and trespassing is strictly forbidden? Maybe I simply switch off all electronic devices for certain amounts of time every day / weekend? Maybe I should learn to rely on my ever growing experience and stop worrying if enormous amounts of lesson preparation hasn’t been done?

Does all that sound like gibberish to your ears or can anyone out there relate to what I’ve been babbling here? If the latter, have you unearthed the magic recipe for evenly-balanced life work formula?

Whichever part of my last questions made you nod vigorously, do come back here as there’s more to follow!

Cheers everyone!


9 thoughts on “Burn brightly … forever

  1. Hi,

    Wow, we really are in a similar position, like you said, sounds far from gibberish! I think what you say about weekly planning might work, I tried this but sometimes I feel more like doing teaching related activities than other so end up changing the plan! It’s hard to get a balance but the great thing about twitter and bloging etc is that you can take a break – short or long and pick up where you left off when you return.

    Looking forward to more posts 🙂


    • Dear Gemma,
      So lovely to have your comment here! And I saw you tweeted as well. Thanks a million!
      Have just returned and it already pays off. PLN rocks!

      Have a wonderful week!

  2. This post is such a treat. I can practically sense your excitement and readiness to jump forward. You have dusted your reflective practice journal!! I’m curious about it!
    Reading your post was delightful, I was smiling all the way through it. So much life in it!

    As Gemma said above, that’s what’s great about this online ELT space. Feel free to take a breather whenever you need it, then be back and find all PLN here just as they were, and happy to hear from you =)

    My only recipe is doing what feels right for the moment and be understanding and kind to yourself) If you feel the energy, spend it! =)
    Or mb I don’t know what I’m saying.)) Anyway great to see you’re back.

    • Dear Anna,
      so incredibly lovely and heartwarming to get the feedback and all your support! You are simply amazing and I’m so glad to be back!

      Enjoy your stay in Thailand, do protect yourself form too much sun and keep blogging!!!!

  3. Glad to see you back, friend. See, we’re still here. 🙂
    I don’t know how to find a work-life balance. I seem to manage just one or the other (either work becomes life or work becomes just the thing I do between weekends – and how guilty I feel when that happens!). Sometimes I think there’s no point in fighting it. If this is the way I feel right now, I should just accept it and roll with it.
    So great to hear your enthusiastic voice here in any case!

    • I guess that’s pretty much the solution … or rather, no solution. I’d say, anything you do with all your heart and enthusiasm tends to wrap you all in at some point. And then, hopefully, it lets you go at times, lets you breathe in a different, not-teacher kind of rhythm. And then it slowly creeps back and before you know it, you’re under the spell again.
      Anyway, I’ll try to stay sober though 🙂
      and the wonderful thing about teaching is how potentially creative it is. So if you are smart enough (which we all are 🙂 then you can beautifully entwine all your outside-the-school interests into your lessons. Like writing, reading, taking pics (my new big love!), drawing … you name it!

      Big hug for your support, dear Anne!

  4. What a lovely blog I’ve discovered. I totally relate to every word of your post. Your story sounds so familiar; almost as though I lived it myself. The truth is that I oftentimes feel a little guilty that instead of doing something meaningful and pragmatic, such as washing the dishes, going for a walk or making a cake, I’m online, reading about other teachers’ experiences. My brain tells me I should slow down a bit, yet the pace makes me feel so alive and happy. I’d like to hope that it’s not just an illusion…

    • Hello Hana,
      And what a lovely encounter! So glad to have found my way to one more enthusiastic and inspiring educator 🙂
      I’m really glad you found echoes of your own thoughts in my words. I’m thrilled to know my own experiences and emotions could strike a chord with other teachers from all over the world. It adds such an exciting ingredient to teaching.

      Till next time!

  5. First, I was excited by your title. Burning brightly is such a hope I have for myself and for the people in my life. It seems to be a metaphor for a life fully lived and embraced.

    Then I felt such a connection to your words. Burning brightly can a also be tiring if we can’t find balance. It’s as if you had described the challenges, fears, and questions I’ve been wondering for a while. Without realizing it, I think I was taking a similar break alongside you. I needed time to tend to my “soul work” as I call it and wasn’t sure how to do it via my familiar channels. I had other voices calling out to me. They still are, but now I’m seeing ways to talk about and through them right here. As the ladies above have mentioned, this seems to be more common than not. What a comfort to know that we all wonder how to balance our passion for teaching and our other passions as well. We aren’t alone. Actually, what your post has shown is that this is very much a valued conversation. Thank you for starting it Sirja!

    So with this I say that this absolutely isn’t gibberish. I think you hit on something regarding trusting your experience. This is something I’ve been trying to do more and more. I too was spending far too much time planning and not enough time for soul work. My last blog post displays the result of that type of light burning. Not fun. Now I have more trust in myself and it seems to have naturally cleared the space for moment when I need to be more creative. Some lessons aren’t as dynamic as I’d like them to be, but some are even better than expected. For me it’s about realizing that like life, there are always highs and lows.

    Thank you for giving me the space to reflect on myself, and hopefully also to celebrate you! This type of post is part of my soul work and for that, I am grateful. Hugs!

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