Yikes! I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve reverted to the stressball I was before winter break. I’m feeling a little too much pressure, and I’m not dealing with it all that well at the moment. School has been back in session only eight days since break, and I’ve missed two of those days. I took a sick day last week and slept virtually all day. On Monday of this week I had a professional day of collaboration with other educators. It was fabulous. Those other eight though…
It’s not the kids. The kids are fine. It’s not the other teachers. They are amazing. What is it? I guess it’s all the demands. In those eight days I’ve been visited by my administrator at least four times. I’ve also been visited by our instructional coach and another coach sent in from the district. I’m being watched.
Now lest you think I’m “in trouble” or a slacker, I assure you I am not. HOWEVER, and this is obviously a big however (you did see the all caps, right?), my winter test scores weren’t great. Not just mine, the whole grade level. In fact we’re all being visited. I’m not sure it’s necessary or even helpful. Long story short, many hours have been spent discussing the situation, and measures are being taken to correct it. I hate being in this position. All of us do. We are professionals. We work hard. Really really hard.
I typically arrive at school by 7:30, take a 25 minute lunch unless I have kids come to do some work, then it’s closer to 12 minutes, and stay until 5 or later. Then I work at home many evenings and weekends. Why? Well, there are 29 sets of papers to be graded, scores to be entered, phone calls and emails to be returned, lessons to be planned and created, tests and practice sheets to be written, and test data to be evaluated. Then there are meetings to attend, forms to fill out, book orders to complete, displays to create, pencils to sharpen, web sites to update, and so much more.
This is not to complain, just to enlighten. The whole image of teachers working 8 to 3 and taking summers off is a fairy tale. Most of us love teaching and love kids, which is why we do it. None of us got into education for fame or fortune. But this is crazy. This feeling of never quite doing enough, never quite having enough time, never quite giving all the students exactly what they need at all times. It’s a lot. It’s too much. I have to cut myself a little slack or I won’t be any good to them. I know what I’m doing. I know I’m a good teacher. I can’t let the current situation get to me, or it will end up sabotaging my efforts. I just need to take a step back and breathe. In, out, in , out… I can do this. I have to.
January 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm
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January 16, 2014 at 5:52 am
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January 18, 2014 at 3:21 am
That is so true! Teachers seem to approach me because of their stress/low energy/weight gain. I was working with a few last year!
January 16, 2014 at 1:57 am
You can do it. I read this with tons of empathy. I used to be a public school teacher, too~ the “trickle down pressure” of testing is horrible. On top of that, everyone blames teachers for all the students’ problems. It’s like ~ yeah, if you could control the family lives, financial situations, neighborhood safety, special needs, and brain development of your kids, it would be your fault. Hang in there.
January 16, 2014 at 5:56 am
The phrase we keep hearing is “no excuses,” which I understand, but the implication is that schools, and by extension teachers, can make diamonds out of coal. Sometimes that isn’t the case. I appreciate your kind words.
January 16, 2014 at 4:24 am
Nothing like having a coach visit your lesson, it drives me insane as they try to change everything after viewing a tiny portion of the learning in the whole scheme of things.
January 16, 2014 at 6:02 am
I’m not opposed to coaching, when it’s a collaborative effort. It just seems like often there is no feedback after these visits, or the feedback is consistently positive (of course, I find this less bothersome).
Lately, though, it’s almost as though there is an effort to find fault with something, anything, just so there is something to note for me to “work” on improving.
And you’re right, sometimes the comments have to do with scaffolding (which you missed) or independent practice (which is coming later)… Oye!
January 16, 2014 at 4:39 am
There never seem to be enough hours in the day for sure! And the pressure you talk about can definitely be overwhelming. As an assistant I have less responsibility, but even so I have stayed an hour after school many days just to complete things that there was no way would get done during school hours. My head teacher has taken to weeding out & accepting that certain things just will not get done in order to focus on what needed to get done-not easy, but helpful to get back on track sometimes. I hope it calms down for you- that feeling of being the hamster on the wheel is not a good one. It is such a rewarding profession but certainly not an 8-3 job- just as you described. Keep breathing!! 🙂
January 16, 2014 at 5:51 am
Thanks for the encouraging words. I’ve been here before and will get through it, I just need to keep my perspective. I really appreciate the empathy. Thanks for all you do for kids!
January 16, 2014 at 5:56 am
I love it too- and I so get everything you said! ( I just started a 10 day winter break and this morning started working on a booklet for “what I did during my winter vacation” for the kids-nothing like planning ahead!!) 🙂
January 16, 2014 at 6:05 am
Always working, that’s what educators do! 🙂 Enjoy your break.
January 16, 2014 at 5:56 am
I have many friends who are teachers and I’ve always said they have the hardest job in the world. I hate that the state puts these mandates on performing at a certain level and hold the teachers accountable. I mean, I get it, in one sense, but I think it has to be done differently. Our state has this ridiculous test in which kids take from grades 3-10. It only counts for them in grade 10, where if they don’t pass with proficiency, they have another chance to take it. If they still don’t, they don’t get their diploma. But all along the way, the poor educators have to teach to the test. It’s stressful for the teachers because the entire curriculum has changed, and again, if the class doesn’t perform well, the teachers are held accountable. We’ve had several elementary (grades 1-4) lose their jobs here because of it. They are talking about making changes here in MA, getting rid of the MCAS. OK, I’ve rambled but it’s such a touchy subject for me. No, I’m not a teacher but I have the utmost respect for each and every one of you. It is the most important job in the world, I think, and those that do it well should be entered into the “Hall of Fame” in my opinion!!
Good luck with your meetings. I hope your days get less stressful and you can do what you love to do soon! Deep breaths!!!
January 16, 2014 at 6:05 am
You get it! Thanks for the encouragement.
Yes, the testing is out of hand. Too much, too soon, not necessarily developmentally appropriate, and not always tied to what kids really need to know. Still, we soldier on. 🙂
January 16, 2014 at 6:27 am
Thinking of you friend and your co-workers. I hear you! Well written post, by the way. You capture the essence of our stress.
January 16, 2014 at 6:38 am
Oh sweetie, I know it’s nothing compared to what it could be. I just thought that maybe I had escaped that world! Thanks for the kind words.
January 16, 2014 at 9:59 am
I volunteer every Friday in my son’s kindergarten classroom. Every. Single. Time I leave the school with a greater appreciation for his teacher. She is doing a job that I know I could not and I am grateful for all the effort that she puts into her job, honestly, her calling. Hang in there, I know you are doing beautiful work!
January 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm
Your son’s teacher is lucky to have you. We have great volunteers at our school, and we appreciate them so much. Thanks for your kind post.
January 18, 2014 at 12:26 am
BB – I loved the illustration in your piece. Really drew me in!
January 18, 2014 at 8:17 am
It spoke to me too! 🙂