July 31, 2009

Where Do Teachers Live?

How important is it that teachers live in the same community in which they teach? Does living in your school's community create more school spirit or community pride? How important is that for teachers?

I find myself facing this decision for the second time. Last year, I taught in a very rural community (pop. 10,000) about twenty minutes away from a medium size city (pop 90,000). I chose to reside in the small town where I worked. It was very nice being so close to school; I could just hop to work in a couple of minutes if I wanted to. Deciding whether to attend after-school events was trivial. Had I lived in the larger community further away, I would have attended fewer school functions, commuted more, and spent more on transportation.

Honestly, though, I didn't really enjoy living in the small town all that much. I got bored. My personal and social life would have been better had I actually lived where the action was.

I'm faced with the same choice this year. I live three miles from my suburban school now and my lease is up at the end of August. Do I stay out in the burbs or go into the city? I've lived in the city before and rather liked it. The commute would be about 15 minutes, which really isn't that terrible. Many other teachers at this district commute in. But still, there's something about actually living in the community, right?

Part of me likes the idea of having a bit more distance between my work life and my home life, but part of me likes the idea of being a bona fide resident of my school district.

What do you think?


Ms. P. said...

I think you are facing a decision that all teachers go through at some point and often more than once, like you are now. I had the same delimma and opted for the "further away" residence. Overall, I feel that it was really the right choice for me.

When I lived close to my school, I had all the benefits you were discussing...short commute, easy to attend school functions, etc. However, I found that I was allowing school to take over my whole life. Don't get me wrong, I'm very dedicated to my students, but school was becoming my whole life.

I would get to school early, often having to wait in the parking lot for the custodian to arrive to shut off the alarm system, stay an hour or two after school, rush home to eat and do chores, and then turn right around and go back to school until 10pm when the night custodians left.

After doing this for about 2 years, I realized that I was setting myself up to be one of those "burnout" teachers that we are always hearing about and if I truly wanted to continue to help kids and enjoy my career, I was going to have to stop overworking myself.

So, I bought a house in a neighboring community. Now, I drive 30 minutes to work, spend my time helping students, and still manage to come back for school functions. I'm much happier, my family is much happier, and my students are benefitting from my more relaxed lifestyle.

Kerri said...

I choose to live about 20 minutes from school as well. It feels like my little private oasis...don't see a lot of the students around when I am not at work...gives me a break and them a break from each other. When I leave work, then I only go back for my daughters' activities (they commute to school with me).

I think it is a personal decision, but I truly like being a distance from the place I work.

Joel said...

Thanks for the great feedback everyone!

Betty said...

Although I lived really close to my school, I actually prefer a little distance. The main thing is to live in a place that you enjoy. Let it be about you and what you want. Now that I am subbing, I occasionally see students I recognize at the local Walmart. It's not the same as having to have unscheduled mini conferences, so it's pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone my friend! I did live within walking distance to my school in a small town. Being a teacher of course everyone knows your business and living in the same town can exasperate this. Like buying groceries. Just when you think you're going to get of of the store quickly with your giant box of super tampax, oversize bottle of wine (it was on sale!) and your husband's favorite beer, up comes the nosy PTA president and her gaggle of kids ages 2-14. She wants to talk. You also see the mother you don't want to see coming at you steering a cart with a lose wheel. Sometimes it's helpful to live just a bit away. It makes shopping easier.