Every educator I have known is guaranteed to mention the topics of managing time and energy at least once (even the ones who seem to have it all together- you know who you are). For me, managing time and energy smacked me right in the face this year when I suffered from a major depressive period..
I felt like I was doing everything right until it didn't feel right anymore. Last year was one of my most fulfilling years professionally: I had finally managed, by a series of random incidences, to organize an exchange between my high school students and a high school in Lorient, France. I was ecstatic that we would be traveling to my favorite region in France, Brittany, and I had planned several international student trips before so I felt well-prepared for any challenges to come my way.
This was a major undertaking and in hindsight I underestimated my own sheer physical ability to carry through with the chaotic teaching schedule I was given (three French 1 & 2 combo classes, a French 3, 4, 5, & AP combo class, and a French 3 & 4 combo class, organizing a trip for 12 American students and 35 French students along with their 4 teachers, plus trying to be a loving wife to my husband and an amazing mom to my 2 & 5 year old daughters.
Let's just say this: I did physically survive that year (just barely). However, I so depleted my 3 core Maslow Levels of Need that I ended up in a very serious place medically and realized that it was time for some serious changes.
A class I took during that dark period focused on stress and it taught me a very simple acronym that helps to address those basic levels of need (or deficiency needs) at once: HALT: Don't ever let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. That sounds like physiological needs (hunger & sleep), safety needs (freedom from fear, security, stability), and love and belonging (lonely). I use this acronym probably once a week to check in with myself particularly when I am feeling angry and lonely.
Something I did learn that is interesting is we never fully achieve 100% at any one level before moving on to the next. Instead, we fluctuate between the levels to the extent that the most basic human needs are in a state of growth. We disrupt our progress toward the top of that pyramid by failure to meet our basic needs.
So, if that is true then last year saw me falling all that way back to the bottom of the pyramid and landing flat on my face. I wasn't taking care of my most basic needs: hunger, sleep, freedom from fear, and stability which led to problems with my interpersonal relationships, my self-esteem, and the sense of respect I earned from others.
These are not always things you can control but it is important to remember WHY you may not be feeling like you are shining in your career and personal life. Once you realize this, I believe that you can change things little by little and get resources and help that will allow you to stabilize your basic levels of need first.
When it comes right down to it, we need to go all the way back to the beginning in order to make true momentum up to that precipice of self-actualization.
McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 21). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Refocus & Recharge: Strategies for Finding Balance in Teaching
My name is Jennifer Geroux and I am 15-year veteran high school French and Spanish teacher. In my professional life, I hold a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (French major, Spanish minor) Degree from Central Michigan University. I also hold a Master in the Art of Teaching Degree from Marygrove College and a Master in English Language Learning Degree from Western Governor's University. I love organizing student travel and exchanges, continuing to learn about a variety of subjects, studying new languages, and mastering the art of teaching.