Learning to Step-up my Professional Life

We’ve chatted a lot on here about having to make choices between career and family. Last May, Law Momma chatted about the Art of Saying No, and just last month, Diana let us know how she’s Learning to Say No. This past week this idea of career vs. family was brought to the forefront as Brandy let us know how she’s working for one of the most family friendly companies as she sings their praises in her Letter to her CEO, while a couple days later, Law Momma was back on the other side of the coin telling us that her career as a lawyer suffers because of her single working mom status.

All of this discussion on the matter has got me thinking about how lately I’m beginning to make different career choices for myself. How I’m stepping it up a notch, if you will. A little over a year ago I reflected on how I was saying “No” a lot. How I just wasn’t in a place in my career or personal life to take on more.  I wanted to say “Yes.” I wanted to be more of a leader, but I had just transferred to a new school, teaching brand new classes, and had a two year-old nipping at my toes. I just wasn’t ready.

But this school year, something’s clicked. Something’s changed. And I’m starting to say “Yes.” I’m starting to raise my hand to volunteer. In the past 4 months I have…

  1. …volunteered to be on a school wide vocabulary committee, which involved developing materials and presenting them to a whole staff meeting.
  2. …I took on a practicum student teacher to be her mentor in her first student teaching experience, thus teaching her the ropes.
  3. …I’ve been busting my butt working with struggling readers and was asked to present information to the School Board about my successes, and of course I said yes.
  4. …I volunteered to be a part of my districts pilot team as we transition to a new teacher evaluation system to be more aligned with Common Core and all the new education legislation coming out.

And I’m saying “Yes” to all of this while still teaching three different preps, albeit three different levels of students. If this seems like a lot to you, well frankly, it is. I took a step back, though, to think about what has changed. How come a little over a year ago I was content with sitting in my little bubble of a classroom, yet today I keep raising my hand?

Ultimately, I’m just at a great place in my life, not only professionally, but personally. And I don’t think I could, or even would be willing to take on so much if the personal side of life wasn’t on the right track. I’m healthier, have a good groove going on with family routines, and my husband is my number 1 cheerleader. Even when I doubt myself, he’s there cheering me on, letting me know he’s proud of me, and continues to push me to achieve my goals. When it comes to the professional side of life, this is my 6th year teaching. I’ve begun to feel more confident in what I’m doing. I’ve stopped doubting myself. I’ve begun telling myself that If I’m not sure how to go about doing something, that I can figure it out, and my students won’t suffer because of it.

Let me just take a moment to qualify all this newness developing in my career, though. I still say “No” to things. You desperately need chaperones for an after school dance? Nope. Can’t do that. You need some score keepers for basketball games? Nope. Not going to volunteer for that. You need a teacher to supervise a new after-school activity? Nope. Not doing that either. You want me at ANOTHER meeting this month when I’m already booked with other obligations? Nope. I’m passing on that one and I’ll email you my thoughts. I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I can’t do it all. And I’m OK with that.

It feels good to be able to become more of a leader in my school. And I’m glad that my workplace allows me the flexibility to be both the best teacher I can alongside being the best mom too boot, even if it means I leave a meeting early after getting a text letting me know I need to  pick up my kid sooner than later. And it pains me to know that Law Momma is struggling within her career. I wish all working moms can feel confident and supported to step it up a notch, all the while sans sacrificing family time. When the time’s right, of course.

What about you? Do you struggle professionally because your career isn’t sympathetic to the working parent? Do you find yourself saying “no” more as a working parent? Have you gotten to a point in your life where you felt comfortable to begin to take on more? I’d love to hear your story.

About the author

Tracy is the Creator and Managing Editor for LWM. She's a working teacher momma to Abigail, born 11/09 and Olive, born 12/13. By day she teaches middle school students all things related to reading and writing, and by night and weekend, she teaches her daughter all about life. You can find her tweeting as @wa_tracy.

One Comment

  1. ann says:

    t, i love this post. i’ve seen it come thru my twitter TL a couple of times and finally have the time to read it and comment :)

    especially in light of the sandberg book and whatnot, i think it’s important for those of us jugglers to weigh when to say yes and no. from what you’re saying, you’ve allowed yourself to say no when the time wasn’t right, and didn’t feel guilty about it (yay!). and now, the time IS right, but you’re still weighing … making sure that the things that will advance your career (woo hoo to that school board prezie!!) are being prioritized over the ones that won’t (no thanks, i’d rather *not* stay late to watch over the 5th grade checkers games). good for you, friend :)
    Twitter: mylifeasprose

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