Can you tell that I am in that stage of the teacher-cycle where you feel overwhelmed by the impossibilities that plague us? I know that we all go through that. It is normal. Even so, it does not make it any easier.
Teachers are asked to do what can’t always be done. We try and we don’t give up, but impossible odds are impossible odds…if you ask one group of people to face them alone, at least. It feels like that for us a lot, if we admit it. We are asked to do things that we can’t do alone…and it gets tiresome and lonely.
Just the weekend I read an article in which yet another societal woe was blamed on the education system and how we are not doing enough to help the next generation make better choices. I had a training this week that puts another of the major issues for adolescents on the shoulders of educators. I feel the burdens of the school life, home life, and future life of my students more and more everyday. I, and all other teachers, are put in front of major foe after major foe day in, day out, week after week, month, and year.
It hit me this morning. The reason I am so tired is very clear. I know why “overwhelmed” does not even to begin to describe what we feel sometimes.
We are being asked to be superheroes.
We are commissioned to save the world.
We are tasked with saving and rebuilding the future.
We are given the job of fighting all of the societal and cultural super-villains that threaten our world.
Of course we are tired!
The theme of this post, though, is not to bemoan and complain about this role. We knew what we were being asked to do when we accepted the job and put on the uniform. This is not news. We got into this to change the world.
It is just tiring work. It is hard. It seems impossible. Sometimes the problems seems so big and we seem so small.
I have always been drawn to superheroes and in the idea of them. I love the ones who were not born with the “superhero” in them, but had the ability and role thrust upon them. I love to see the struggle between who they were and the superhero that they have become.
Peter Parker was just a teenager/young adult when be became Spiderman. Sue Storm and the other Fantastic Four were just scientists when they got their powers and started fighting crime. The story is the same for Bruce Banner when he became “Hulk.” Bruce Wayne may have been super-rich, but he was just a man when he took on the role of savior of Gotham (I actually think, outside of the money thing, that Batman is more along the lines of what teachers do, but that is another post for another day).
I say all of this to say that there are two sides to most of the superheroes in comic books (graphic novels) and movies. They have alter-egos. They have someone who they are when they are not fighting crime and the world’s woes.
Teachers are the same. We can’t always be “on.” Even throughout the school day, we sometimes need to take of the mask and breathe a minute. We need to take a little break from the super-villains every once in a while and remember that we are people, too.
The “bad guys” will always be there. We will always be asked to fight them. BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. It is okay to remember that you are weak.
Take a minute and remember who you are in the mirror. Take a break. Take a breath. Ask for help if you need it.
You can’t always be “super” even if you want to be. You are a person and a teacher. Don’t be ashamed of that. Remember who you were before you became a world-saving-crime-fighter. It is okay.
It is okay to be your alter-ego, Super Teacher. You are both people. Don’t fear your weaknesses. Acknowledge them. Work through them. Be who you are along with the hero.
Take a breather every once in a while and then get back to fighting. It is okay. The battle will always wait for you. Don’t worry about that!
You are awesome! You are a hero. You are a superhero. Your students do need you…but you need you, too. Your family, friends, and non-school life need you. Don’t wear yourself out. Remember your alter-ego and save time for that other side of you! You are so amazing. Keep on teaching, Teacher!