Finding Balance

Jen Robinson Current Affairs, Education, Elementary

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Two weeks ago it was announced that Arizona schools would be closed until March 30th. I was not too concerned because our district was just starting our two-week spring break. I was thinking everything would be back to normal by then. And really how bad would it be, working from home? I didn’t have to get up at 4:00 to run, I could sleep in and wait for it to get light. After all, I didn’t need to be anywhere except – home. I learned during this time, I need structure. Don’t get me wrong, I completed meaningful work, I took time for self care and made sure to stay current on the news. I participated in virtual meetings and hung out with my dogs. If my husband and I needed space, I would go to another room, upstairs or outside on the patio. We figured it out. Then on Friday, March 20 the school closure was extended until April 10.  

Week two was more stressful. Looking back there was no need for it to feel that way. After all, the only thing that changed was the date to return to work, right? For me it just got real. It was hard because I still wanted to honor that our teachers and staff were on spring break, however they were increasingly communicating with me. Administration, custodians and administrative assistants were asked to report back with the option to work from home with meaningful work, if possible. I felt the need to be at work physically. We practiced social distancing, but we were also able to talk in person and discuss a plan to clean the school and how we would communicate. Along with that came increased anxiety and pressure to ensure everything was ready for Monday, when we would have returned live with scholars.

Working at school and then from home has blurred the lines. An increased anxiety of wanting everything to be just right. I guess that goes along with the uncertainty of what distance learning looks like. I want teachers, scholars and parents to feel ready and feel supported. The only other way to describe this feeling of anxiety is, the week before the first day of school. As an administrator, I am struggling to find balance. Since very few people are actually at work, it doesn’t really seem like I accomplish much at all, which makes it okay in my mind, for me to respond to emails and texts when I am at home. I even find myself answering emails on Saturday night and Sunday morning, where in the past I would simply wait until Monday morning. As I sit here on my patio, watching my dogs run around the yard,  I am not sure what Monday will look like. I only have memories of what the first day back  looked like in the past. The look in our scholars’ eyes when they see you for the first time, laughter on the playground. The contagious energy of teachers, staff, scholars and parents and the buzz in the front office and parking lot as scholars return. Tomorrow will look and feel very different.

How are you finding life, work balance during this pandemic?

How are you preparing for your metaphorical “first day” back?


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 1

  1. Kyle Bragg

    Thanks for the post, Jen!

    Like many teachers, I am having a tough time with not seeing my students. Working from just doesn’t feel the same. I don’t get to see the students laugh, smile, interact with each other.

    I am also having a tough time finding balance. I am constantly trying to get away from my home work space, knowing that I did my best for my students. With being essentially locked in our apartment, it’s tough to “get away” from it all. I find myself exercising and listening to music, but sometimes my brain is still in education mode.

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