Not going to lie, this is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to write. I am still a bit in shock that it is August and I am not in my classroom every night until 9 pm prepping for another year to start. This is the first time in over 25 years that I haven’t gone to school, and I am still figuring out what that looks like for me. To be perfectly honest, as bad as it is to admit, I am still figuring out who I am just as a person, outside of being a classroom teacher. So before I get too far ahead of myself, let me just dive in and update you. I figured the easiest way to do this was with a little Q&A, so here it goes!
What is your plan for this school year?
I am officially taking extended maternity leave for the 2018-2019 school year. Technically I went on maternity leave back in March when my first son was born, and now that time off is just extending into the school year.
Why are you just now sharing this information?
Y’all, I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back and forth on this with my principal (who I ADORE – truly my favorite person I have ever worked for/with) and the headmaster of my school. Back in January, when I thought a sweet baby girl was about to join our family, letters of intent went out and I said I wasn’t sure what my plan would be. I thought I would return after my 12 weeks (non-paid, mind you, HA!) maternity leave and have 6-8 weeks left in the school year to “test the waters” with having a baby in childcare and working full time. If you’ve read our story, you know that we didn’t end up with that baby. My school was in need of a part-time science teacher anyway for the next school year, so I told them to go ahead and post my full-time position on the website with the part-time one since I still wasn’t sure what I would want to do (or at that point, when we would get a baby!) Then if they found someone awesome, I would just move down to the part-time role if I still wanted to teach. I knew I was being indecisive, and I wanted them set up for success whether I returned or not.
Then at the beginning of March, we were shocked to bring home a baby boy. From that point on I was in constant negotiation with admin about this coming school year. What if you came back for a half-day? What if you came back for just AP biology? What if you came back and just taught 3-4 days a week and we found someone to monitor independent work on the other days? What if you took more time off and came back in January for spring semester? I was truly humbled by each and every offer. I have never felt more valued and encouraged as an educator. Every time I sat down with my husband and considered each offer, I felt completely torn. It was truly heart-wrenching to consider leaving the job that I loved vs. leaving the baby that I loved. (Can we all just stack hands on the fact that being a teacher mom is SO HARD?!)
This conversation seriously kept going on until July 31st (the day before teachers headed back to school) when my headmaster texted me – are you sure you don’t want to come back in August? His text made me both laugh and cry. So when I say this has been a back and forth debate for months, I truly mean it.
How did you come about
finally making this decision?
At the end of the day, I laid out all of the responsibilities that I have at school (teacher of 5 preps, student council coordinator, mentor to 10 students, and all other general teacher roles) plus all of the ones I have outside of school (volunteering with the ministry of Young Life, running It’s Not Rocket Science classroom and store, maintaining our household, and now KEEPING A TINY HUMAN ALIVE) and I realized I just could not do it all. Something HAD to give. I was already running on empty all last school year, and that was before a child was thrown into the mix.
Not only that, I knew (per usual), my husband would end up getting the short end of the stick. For the last 6+ years, he has sacrificed day in and day out so that I could pursue my dreams (like getting my Master’s and starting this site.) He has cooked more dinners and cleaned more toilets than I have ever in my life so that I could stay late at school grading papers or work on a new product for TpT. Even today, he walked in the door from work and immediately took our son so that I could have the time to write all of this out. He truly has done so much for me and our family that I couldn’t imagine putting even more on his plate so that I could keep doing what I am doing AND raise our baby on top of it all.
So I am doing this for him. But I am also doing it for myself. I have ached and prayed for this baby for so long, that I don’t want a miss any more of the time with him than I have to. I am thankful for my TpT store and my husband’s insanely ridiculous saving strategies and budget skills (let’s just say Dave Ramsey is a regular name in our household) that have made it possible for me to stay home with our baby. I know he would thrive in daycare (I was a daycare baby and turned out just fine) but if I don’t have to miss out on being home with him, I don’t want to. I would hate to look back on this season and regret not taking the chance to stay home when I could have.
Who knows, maybe I will hate being home (many people who know me are confident that I will) and be aching to be back in the classroom. Maybe one year off will be exactly the time I need with my son and the refreshment for my soul so that I can return for the 2019-2020 school year energized and enthused. Maybe we will adopt a second child and I’ll need even more time home. Maybe I’ll never return to the classroom (extremely hard for me to imagine at this point, but WHO KNOWS.) I don’t know what the future holds, but I have peace in my decision for this school year, and for that I am grateful.
What will you miss most about being in the classroom?
MY STUDENTS OF COURSE!! I just love high schoolers. They are my people. Luckily I will still get lots of time with them through our ministry of Young Life, and I plan to be at my school ALL the time still for games and plays to support my kiddos, but I will just miss the day to day knowing everything that is going on with them and walking through life together.
I’ll miss the excitement of sharing a new topic with students that I LOVE or the joy that comes with walking through one of my favorite labs or activities with them. I’ll miss their thoughtful questions that lead to provoking discussions.
I’ll miss AP Biology a LOT. Even though teaching it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I grew SO much as a teacher and learned more than I have in years. I have so many ideas for ways I would improve and tweak what I did the first go-around, and I am bummed I will have to wait at least a year for another chance to do that.
I will miss the coworkers and community I had at work. I teach in probably the most encouraging school on the planet. I was consistently built up by the people around me and I ALWAYS felt valued and appreciated. Most specifically, I’ll miss my amazing department chair and principal. They are the two most kind-hearted men I know who led with the uttermost humility and grace. It was truly an honor to work with them and I’m hoping neither of them retires before I return so I won’t miss out on working with them again.
I’ll miss my classroom too. Y’all know that our classrooms are our homes away from home. I had only been in my most recent classroom a year (I finally got updated to a lab room when I took on AP Biology – was in an old computer lab with no running water or safety equipment the previous years) but in that span of time I made it totally my space and just really loved it.
What gets you most excited about taking a break from the classroom?
There are SO many things that I am excited about! A few of them are:
- Actually going to bed and waking up at the same time as my husband (teacher schedule had me going to sleep and up so much earlier than him)
- Not having to put on nice clothes every morning
- Slow mornings with my sweet baby boy every day
- Opportunities to travel with my husband when he has to travel for work
- The freedom, energy, and ability to minister to my friends, my YL girls, my family and my community more easily now that I have a flexible and open schedule
- Watching my son grow – I swear he does something new every single day and I am continually shocked that he is able to get even cuter. Not sure how it is possible!
- Last but most certainly not least, having the outlet to still do arguably my favorite part of teaching – creating resources!!
What does this mean for It’s Not Rocket Science®?
Y’all, my brain has been EXPLODING with ideas for all that I want to do for my store and this blog for over a year – I just simply did not have the time last year. I am so excited to have the space to work from home (shoutout to BOTH grandmas living in the area #freebabysitting) so that I can write and create all of the things that I have been dreaming about this last year. If I went back to the classroom this year, I was essentially going to have to put my store on hold and not create any products anymore due to the lack of time I was going to have. But now that doesn’t have to happen, and I can’t WAIT to share with you all that I have in store!
Have any of you taken a break from the classroom to stay home with your kids? Any tips or words of wisdom? Any work from home mamas out there with advice or encouragement? I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments below!