As a teacher, there is always emotional labour to do. And there's never enough time or energy to do it all.
When I started teaching, I suddenly found myself unable to maintain the friendships I had built in college and high school. Now, I've never been the social organiser or connector (like Andrew is), but I did have strong friendships from college that I wanted to keep. And I was so freaking exhausted by teaching high school English, that I lost touch with almost all of them.
I was so ashamed by that. Culture tells us, especially women, that we need to call and send cards and check in on our friends, and no, Facebook doesn't count. To be fair, Facebook didn't exist until years after I graduated, and it is not something I'm investing time in at this point in my life, either. In my own mind (and probably in the minds of my friends) I was a failure.
But I had kids whose fathers just died, who had serious eating disorders, who had learning disabilities and emotional problems and medical issues...and I just couldn't do it all. So I chose my students.
Over the years, the emotional labour I take on has changed. Teaching 6th grade means fewer life crises with students, but I have far more emotional labour with the parents. My colleagues are also great, but the school culture can be intense and we all struggle with it.
I also have gotten better about boundaries and making sure I have spaces that work for me and let me stay in touch with friends. Right now, Voxer works really well for me. I do get overwhelmed from time to time, but I also don't feel compelled to stay on top of all the chats of which I'm a part.
Something else that helps tremendously is that I don't take work home anymore. Some of that is that I'm tremendously blessed with smaller student numbers, and all of them have laptops so my workflow can be 100% digital. And I've also learned when to reinvent the wheel, and when to use versions of the wheel others have created.
This is probably one of the issues that is most important for teachers: learning what activities are worth more effort, and which aren't. Grading doesn't take all of my time now, and I'm giving far more feedback than I have in any previous year.
But I am far more aware now of the emotional labour, and its toll on me and my life. I think being aware of it will help me find more balance this upcoming year.