Immediately, we began feeding off of each other's energy. It was so fun!
Ann and I got to the point where summers were too long and we couldn't wait to get back to planning elaborate units, some lasting the entire semester, and would often start planning for the next year early in July. If there were no scheduled breaks at other times of the year and we needed more time to plan, we thought nothing of taking our own sick and personal days to make sure we had some uninterrupted time so that our units would be the best we could possibly deliver.
It was a special time in my career.
Then Ann got sick.
Little did we know that when she went in for a simple procedure just before school started, things would never be the same. Her daughter agreed to be her sub, thinking it would only be for a couple weeks, but ended up being for the entire year. Ann's life became one of doctor's visits, chemo and radiation, working toward a recovery that would not happen.
Throughout our years of teaching together, she was an amazing mentor and her advice was always spot on. Ironically, the last advice she gave me required perfect hindsight on both our parts: Find balance. Take care of yourself, including annual visits to your doctor, especially if something isn't feeling quite right. That advice could very well have saved my dear friend, Ann.
Do not use your sick days and personal leave for your work. She ran through all her sick and personal leave much too quickly and could have used those extra days she had "donated" for the good of the cause, leaving her to battle the district for extended leave before retiring.
We, as teachers, are notorious for putting in long hours, ignoring our health and lacking balance in our lives. Teaching is harder than it's ever been, with unreasonable demands on our time. How do you find balance? How do you take care of you?