The Big Bag Bother

Today I learned… that my shoulder really freaking hurts.

I once posted about how I don’t carry a teacher bag.  I don’t lug stuff home, I don’t have a giant organizer bag, nothing.  Yeah… this morning I realized that while that may be true… I have a big bother of another bag.  I don’t when I sold my soul to the big bag gods, but at some point I started filling up my purse with random stuff.  Seriously.  It’s weird.  It’s like I subconsciously thought “well it’ll fit, so I’ll just toss it in for now and put it away later.”  Somewhere along the way, I turned my purse into a giant bag of holding (if you don’t know, ask someone in a comic book shop).

Here’s what is inside my bag. I dumped it out and organized it just for you.  Printed copy of student grades?  Check. First aid kit? Check.  Three lip glosses?  Check, check, check.  Lighter, even though I don’t smoke?  Velcro for a bulletin board at school that I absolutely did not have to put in my purse and bring home?  Even trial contacts and contact solution that, again, did NOT have to be in that bag.

ImageThen I weighed it. 6 pounds. 6 pounds of crap I really don’t need. It’s got an undetectable extension charm.  It’s bigger on the inside. Whatever.  It’s over.  I’m done.  I’m breaking up with the giant bag.

Again, those of you carrying around a giant purse, messenger bag, or teacher bag, take note. Big bags are okay, as long as you aren’t packing them full of random things.  That weight is murder on your shoulders, neck, and lower back.  Just ask Oprah.  Take inventory of what you really need on a day to day basis, and get rid of the rest.  Can you keep it at school?  In the car?  Do you absolutely need to carry it around with you?  If not, take it out of the bag.  Your shoulders will thank you.  I really like this article with tips for how to STOP bringing everything home with you.  Teacher burnout isn’t pretty.  Neither is a chiropractic bill.  Ditch the bag.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go empty my TARDIS purse.

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Today I Learned… The Teacher Bag is Totally Pointless.

So for many years I had a teacher bag.  It was orange and I got it for free from Staples at one of their teacher appreciation days.  And it was orange.  Bright orange.  I loved it.  Did I mention it was orange?  It was my teacher bag, and I faithfully carried all my stuff to and from school in it.  Teacher guides, tests, worksheets, whatever.

In addition to my orange teacher bag, I often had my lunchbox, my purse, coffee, and a muffin from Dunkin’ Donuts.  I tell you, I would have *killed* Mary Poppins for that bag of hers.  I never truly understood the meaning of the word schlep until I started carrying all that crap around with me.  To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure I understand schlep now.

Seriously.  Multiple teacher editions, tests, worksheets, workbooks, parent contact forms, student data tracking forms… I crammed it all in that stupid orange bag.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  My only consolation is that I knew I wasn’t alone.  Almost every teacher I know carries some form of a teacher bag.  One very seasoned veteran I carpooled with had a fanny pack *and* a briefcase.  He was dedicated.  But we all do the same thing.  We schlep everything home because we will so definitely do ALL OF IT while we watch Netflix.  Or… instead… we won’t.  We’ll cook dinner.  Or drink a glass of wine.  Or clean the house.  Or drink a bottle of wine.  Or spend time with our friends and family.  Or workout.  Or drink a glass of wine.

Yea.  I almost never opened that damn orange bag.  I brought it home, and either left it by the door or left it in the car.  If I did work on stuff from the bag, I never finished all of it.  Never.

So this year, I finally gave up the ghost of the teacher bag.  I don’t take it home unless I absolutely have to because grades are due or I have a conference or whatever.  I don’t bring stuff home.

Don’t get me wrong, I still plan from home.  I create Smart Notebooks and presentations, worksheets, tests, and plan.  But it’s all digital or online.  I don’t physically carry stuff around with me.  Schlep-free for me!

(Mostly schlep-free.  Grades are due tonight, so as I write this I’m looking at a pile of tests that I did bring home to finish.  What can I say?  I write first and retract later.)

What’s my point?  I have no idea.  I guess I’m trying to convince others to give up the teacher bag.  It doesn’t make you a horrible teacher if you don’t bring everything home.  Odds are you aren’t even doing it all every night anyway.  Because life happens.  And it should happen.  I somewhat regret the amount of my early 20s that I wasted on grading parties and data binder nights (more on that another day).  I loved teaching, and I wanted to do it the best I could, but I made myself unnecessarily stressed… all in the name of doing extra work at home that I didn’t need to do.

So now the teacher bag holds something far more important.

Beach clothes.