Bicycle /Balance / Tales Out of School

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

Bicycle /Balance / Tales Out of School

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I worked as a teacher’s aide in St. Paul, a special summer program to help elementary students who needed to catch up a bit. Those children were delightful, and took full advantage of my lack of experience. Exhausting, but really fun!

Four friends and I had rented an upstairs duplex in Minneapolis for the summer, my first away from home. My “room” was the screened porch, coolest “room” in the non-air-conditioned house, so much more comfortable that another resident, who worked nights, often slept there during the day. Sharing was the theme of our summer.

Another friend had loaned me a bicycle on which I commuted to work, over some very busy streets. It was good exercise but perhaps not the wisest mode of travel. I wouldn’t ride in traffic like that now.

The joy of working with those rowdy summer students and later with my student teaching classes kept me motivated to return to teaching when the demographics changed and districts were hiring again in 1980. The eight years with Prudential gave me organizational and motivational skills, and of course, paid the bills while I waited.

Balance . . . It’s hard to achieve a work/leisure balance. During one salary negotiation, teachers in our district kept track of hours spent teaching, planning, grading. One week I logged 80 hours. Most stopped keeping track, too depressing. Somehow we always got everything finished to turn in grades and put away the classroom on the last day of the school year. No one knows how, but it always worked out. Summer was for catching up on our personal lives, and taking classes for certification.

Yep, “toughest job you’ll ever love” but try to keep your balance, as on a bicycle, while moving forward.


11084301_10152820080385028_48227205056877781_nChris juggling on stilts!!!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephen Tremp
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 08:37:09

    Great that you helped kids in need who really needed you and others like you. And no way I would ride a bike on city streets these days. People are just too crazy.


  2. Sue Kuentz
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 10:16:18

    So true Mary! Balance and bicycling is what educators are all about! I too wasn’t so good at balancing my 80 hours/week teaching but LOVED my weekends biking with my husband in the hill country! Wish I could have been aware of your metaphor back then. Still love education and as a retired educator, it’s nice to be a strong advocate – trying to make that balance work for our teachers now and in the future! Love your post!


  3. Tarkabarka
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 16:21:08

    My mother is a teacher, and I grew up seeing how much work goes into it. Probably the reason I never played at being a teacher when I was a little girl… And now here I am. 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary


  4. Courtney Turner (@mauijungalow)
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 20:32:50

    80 hours a week is definitely out of balance! Biking is one thing I’d love to be better at. I’m deadly on a bike : )


  5. Lanise Brown
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 00:21:02

    Wonderful post, Mary. And great advice about keeping balance and moving forward. It’s advice we can all use. 🙂


  6. clicksclan
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 02:31:51

    I agree that it can be tricky to achieve a good balance, either between work and free time or other things like housework and hobbies. Sometimes I spend so much time doing one thing that I get annoyed so stop work on that to do something more interesting to me, which is obviously not the right approach. It shouldn’t be all or nothing.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan


  7. robin bady
    Apr 04, 2015 @ 11:37:09

    Bicycling kept me sane during a summer when I taught theater and play creation to middle schoolers inChicago. It was always a 40 minute trip to the theater from my home on the West Side. I would enter the theater space sweaty but ready to go – already warmed up and open to anything.

    I needed that…the kids had so many ideas and so much talent that I had to stay on my feet to keep up with them!

    Biking and balance. yup!


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