Put your mask on first….

Tuesday night, I had a bit of a breakdown… It had been a LONG day full of CRAZY things…We woke up to 5 piles of vomit from cats or the dog… Then, I spilled my tea, then a cat sprayed Isla and me while we were working on math (and yes I know it is a sign of love but that doesn’t make the smell or experience any more tolerable). Then Isla had an accident because she was holding it for so long when we were playing outside… Then I found out about another three conferences/workshops being cancelled, and the day just continued to snowball from there….

On Wednesday night, I had a full blown panic attack… I have been working 1000 mph since Monday the 16th when we moved to “virtual” classrooms. Only 10% of my students are “participating” in what I am putting out there because it is enrichment but honestly, I am more worried about their emotional states then them watching my content… I am working day and night trying to provide content, ideas, resources, and reassurance for teachers around the Nation and World. I’ve worked tirelessly to try and convert the workshop I was supposed to lead on Saturday into a quality online PD experience…. I’ve done 6 webinars in the last week and a half and five 1-2 hour training sessions with teachers on various classroom tech programs…One of my webinars was about how to stay positive and “self-care” during this crazy time…HA!

I have people texting me and thinking I am mad at them because I take more than 5 hours to respond…I am drowning and trying to teach myself to not answer right away…even family! UGH! It can wait….I need to remember that everyone is home right now and the unprecedented amount of emails and message I am getting is because people have the time to send them… it doesn’t mean I need to magically come up with the time to answer them all… 16 hours a day behind a computer is not sustainable for me…


Karen Rowan and Allison Litten had a really serious chat with me on Wednesday night… Karen said, “Annabelle, you’re putting the mask on everyone else before putting it on yourself….” You know when flight attendants come around and make sure that you understand to put your own mask on before helping your kids???


My husband is VERY worried about me. My mom is scared about my level of stress….

Yesterday, I completely disconnected. Paul insisted.. It was important… I needed it… I emailed my boss and took a personal day… I slept a lot, I cried a lot, I went on walks, I played with Memphis, I laughed with Paul…. I …. slowed….. down……

I am panicking about finances…. we depend on workshops and conferences… Now Paul, like so many others is completely out of work for the foreseeable future… the next four months was going to ensure we could move out again and have a place of our own… that is SO important to us… and I am so very grateful that we have a place to stay right now and that we are going to be ok but it is still a hard pill to swallow…

I am shifting my mentality and coming up with schedules and boundaries for myself and my technology usage. I am going to spend more time with my family. More time cherishing these moments with Memphis while he is so joyful and is oblivious to the chaos and uncertainty around him… take advantage of this special time with Isla and enjoy reading the Chronicles of Narnia with her and playing board games… I am going to breathe more and hold Paul’s hand…

I will continue to take care of y’all too.. but I won’t be as INSANELY present as I have been because I am going to start putting my mask on first….

Thank you for your constant love, and support. I am grateful for all of you… you have no idea…

Take care of yourselves….. if we aren’t doing that, we can’t possibly take care of our families or our students…

Stay happy, stay well, stay sane…


La Maestra Loca



  1. Absolutely the right thing to do. I look up to you so much and I was wondering how you can sustain this insane schedule. Enjoy and cherish your family first and take one day at time.

    1. Thanks for being so open and honest about this. I have been feeling overwhelmed with trying to do online work, getting good work, not fluff, for students, getting away from so much screen time. With little human connection, it it nice to know I am not the only one. And I do appreciate all your wonderful ideas and suggestions. Muchas gracias.

  2. Thanks for the super honest post. A great reminder.

    On Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 11:02 AM La Maestra Loca wrote:

    > La Maestra Loca posted: “Tuesday night, I had a bit of a breakdown… It > had been a LONG day full of CRAZY things…We woke up to 5 piles of vomit > from cats or the dog… Then, I spilled my tea, then a cat sprayed Isla and > me while we were working on math (and yes I know it is a ” >

  3. GIRLFRIEND YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! I’m proud of you! It’s hard to say you need to take so many steps back when you can seemingly juggle so many things all the time but this working from home thing is insane. The constant availability of all of us being digital is draining in so many ways! You do you, SOY YO! Sending you love and hugs and positivity because you are ALWAYS that positive beacon for me from far away!

  4. Nothing but love and respect for you. You don’t have to be everything to everybody. I know it’s in your heart but you and your family come FIRST! P.S. Had a meltdown myself today? You are not alone!!

  5. Girl, put on that mask! We understand! Your students understand! 我爱你 朋友!

  6. Take time for you. Hold Paul’s hand, play with Memphis and Isla. Then worry about your students, then if you have time worry about us and our students. I love your ideas, but I will be ok. Take care of yourself.

  7. Definitely take a pause (or more!) None of this is worth compromising our health and/or our family relationships!

  8. Thank you so much sharing this. All teachers understand completely! I appreciate you for putting these frustrations into words. It speaks for all us. We are all juggling an incredible amount of tasks in this ‘new normal.’ The unexpected blessing is extra time to spend with family. It’s worth putting work aside to make that family time ‘quality time.’
    Take care of yourself so you can continue to be AWESOME!

  9. This is the best piece of wisdom that you have ever sent! Take care of YOU! We will all be ok!

  10. That’s why you are an inspiration for many teachers, you are amazing, but you are human, and this is a very challenging and uncertain situation. You care about everybody. Now You and your family are the most important people to put your energy and focus. Be well! We will get through this!

  11. Thank you so much for your courage and vulnerability! One of my teachers (Brene Brown! She has a new podcast!) has inspired me to be brave and afraid and live in the AND BUT, not just the either/or.

    Take good care of your beautiful shiny self. You are a beacon even in the midst of a breakdown!
    I hope you don ‘t read this comment because you are too busy blowing bubbles or cuddling with your fam.
    Ok, maybe you just pause before hand.
    Sending love from sunny Gloucester, MASS. Y un abrazo virtual.

  12. Dear “LML”-

    I’m sure that you’ve received this already from JSB (Justin Slocum Bailey) but in case not, just sharing..


    You and he were both 2 very inspirational folks that I had the opp. to meet this year when I attended ACTFL for 1st time.

    What rings in my head were the words of Mike Peto one evening that same ACTFL when he said something to the effect of “Annabelle… yeah, some people think that she is so successful with her students because she is just so hype and has unlimited energy BUT they really have no idea what is at the core of her success: SHE PAYS ATTENTION AND IS IN TUNE TO HER STUDENTS.

    So, if that can be any encouragement, and centering, know that there are tons out there who respect your work because of how much you lean on the HUMAN CONNECTION of it all: I mean, your obvious affirmation responses during the ACTFL closing ceremony this past year are right there in that same spirit.


  13. I love and admire you girl!! I’m SO proud of your honesty and that you are putting that oxygen mask on!! I honestly hope you DON’T read this for awhile….and if you do, get back offline and cuddle your sweetheart and play with your babies. Your students will still learn…90% are doing their own thing anyway. The 10% that ARE there will understand or will happily jump ahead with Sr. Wooly or Duolingo or whatever program they find. (BTW, EPIC has children’s books online in Spanish, it’s part of my new online library for FVR!! ). Find peace, relax. We are all muddling through and that is AlL we are asked to do. We are not expert o line teachers, but we can reach our to and bring a smile on someone else’s face. We are going to be ok. Remember, self first, family next, job (students)….and then worry about us, we MORE than understand you taking a personal day…girl, take a week if ya need it! Besitos! ~Christine Mendoza

  14. So proud of you ,darling, I’ve been so worried about you, just as your mother has. So very glad that you are now putting g on your mask first. We will face time one of these days when we all have a minute.

  15. Take care of you, girl! I was thinking that I don’t know how you were doing everything you were doing.

    On Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 12:01 PM La Maestra Loca wrote:

    > La Maestra Loca posted: “Tuesday night, I had a bit of a breakdown… It > had been a LONG day full of CRAZY things…We woke up to 5 piles of vomit > from cats or the dog… Then, I spilled my tea, then a cat sprayed Isla and > me while we were working on math (and yes I know it is a ” >

  16. I’m going to be honest – I sometimes can’t stand teachers I work with who put in as much as effort as you do, only because it makes me feel like a failure, or that I’m not giving it my all. I tend to take care of myself more than anyone else (I don’t have kids yet), so I’ve taken a lot of time for myself this week. I see them work so hard, which is wonderful in so many ways, but it does make me wonder when they get time to actually chill! Maybe some people are just built to be nonstop, but I have to wonder if it catches up with them. I’m glad you realized it was time to push the pause button. I wish some of my coworkers would do the same, not only because I’ve been feeling useless compared to their hustle this week, but because I honestly think they need it. They LOVE to work, but I notice their own children need some of that love right now. We’ll get through this… thank you for all that you do.

  17. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. Believe me, I learned the hard way. We are starting digital classes on April 6. I have a wise superintendent. My high school classes are meeting 100 minutes a week, that’s 20 minutes a day including homework. I’ll be meeting live with them twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) for 20 minutes to practice vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation. On Tuesdays I’m posting a Loom video going over a grammar concept and assigning some online homework to practice the concepts. Wednesdays are Wooly Wednesdays – work on Sr. Wooly. Fridays will be a short culture video, a reading, or catch up time to finish up anything from the week. Activities will be posted for the whole week so that students can work on them when they want to. Monday and Thursday classes will be recorded in case students can’t make it. It’s important to remember that parents may be working from home, and students may need to share devices with brothers and sisters.

    This is year 32 teaching for me. One of the reasons I’ve made it this long is because I schedule time for myself – at least two evenings a week and one weekend day. Most weekends I don’t work on school stuff. It’s called work/life balance.

    I appreciate everything that you do. There’s a lot of pressure in our society for women to do it all. Stop worrying about being superteacher, supermom, superwife, etc. It’s okay and healthy to take days off and to take time for yourself.

  18. If you are broken, nothing and nobody else works.Take care of YOU!!! Enjoy your beautiful family. Take deep breaths. Believe. It will all work out, it will all be OK.

  19. Please do take care! This is so important to have self care right now as personal and professional lines are so blurred.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *