How do I know I’m mad, indeed? Well, I keep coming back for more. I am tired, I am somewhat exhausted, and I smell smoke; a sign of potential burn-out. Too many voices in the forms of e-mails, tweets, blogs, push-back, cattiness and manic, agenda-fueled piracy. Leave me alone. I’m fading out and leaving only an enigmatic smile behind.
But lately I’ve been thinking that true satisfaction, smug, self-reliant satisfaction, is possibly the best option for sanity. Or survival.
The other day I just got so teary. Voices I respect are telling me I don’t have the right to be tired, or telling me I am not being professional if I’m feeling exhausted. I realize it’s ‘only October,’ but I need to find my reset button. I haven’t been teaching that long, to be sure. I am not a veteran or old war horse. This is only my fifth year; I counted up the number of students I’ve had, and it’s close to 800 collective souls. They came in waves of years, each class thinking they are the only ones who have tried a trick on me, or been disrespectful with their special, unique brand of sass, or proudly waved their illiteracy banner, or alliterate masthead, of “I hate to read! Ha! Now try to reach me! I’m falling through the cracks, and you can’t reach me…neener neener neener!”
Everyone is working their fannies off right now. And at the risk of sounding like an entitled, whiney, unprofessional teacher, there are many colleagues who would testify on my behalf that I have done and given more than my fair share. I have spent hours creating meaningful, relevant, and engaging curriculum–nights, weekends, planning time, mornings, vacations — you name it. I have neglected balance and health in my own life to ensure I am “prepared.”
It is with some sense of satisfaction that I can dutifully and happily report that all the hard work is paying off, that I am reaping the educational harvest I have sown. Lots of creative lessons, on-line, technologically integrated lessons, rubrics and checklists galore, along with the big questions and the targeted assessments.
So why the frown, clown?
The half-lit thought of change has crossed my mind. I don’t really want to teach anywhere else, though. What I do want is for you, my friends and colleagues, to tell me how you keep things fresh, avoid burn-out, and still maintain strong, foundational instructional practices for all students? I remind myself that even though that even though this may be my 786th student, this is Student #786’s first time in 8th grade.
We are all balancing families, friends, health, happiness, and hope. Maybe seeking satisfaction isn’t the answer. But a little more peace and creativity sure would help.
Waiting for Superman? Nah. Lois Lane already had a life before he showed up.