You have had a tough couple of days (or weeks…or months…or whole school year). I get it. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world…and people who have never been in the classroom (or haven’t been recently) do not understand that. On top of that, some years are worse than others. It just so happens that this year is one of those years.
You are tired. You are exhausted. You are burned out or right on the edge of burnout.
You are starting to lose your edge. You are starting to lose heart. You are starting to wonder what other careers might fit your skill set.
Trust me, I have been there. It sucks. It really does.
But there is one thing that you can do about all of it. It is not a magic key to unlock teaching happiness, but it is something.
You can ask yourself one question.
What are you going to do about it?
You can’t really change your circumstances. You can’t make your students be different. You can’t control all of your classroom dynamics. You can’t force your administration to be different and you can’t stop the system from being what it is.
You can change one thing.
You can change you.
I wish I had the words to explain what I mean by that, but I would rather quote Maya Angelou who said it better than I ever could.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
We can control how we are affected by our situation. We can adjust the way we react to things. We can check our feelings before we make a decision. We can change the way that we let things affect us.
I think the best way to do this is to refocus on why we are teaching in the first place. We need to remember why we started this journey we call the teacher life. What brought us here? What brought you to teaching may be what helps you stay with it.
I do believe that answer is probably close to the same for all of us. It is all about students and trying to make the world a better place for them.
I know that reality has made that difficult to keep a view of, but you can start over every day and find that target again. We can ask ourselves, “How will I make today better for my students (even the tough ones)?”
I am not saying that we forget about standards and curriculum, but I do think it will help if we double-down on putting students and what they need in front of those things.
I don’t know. Am I making sense here?
Anyway, the best way to survive is looking at ourselves and how things are changing us as teachers. Are we doing what we are doing for the sake of students or for some other reason? If it not for students how can we change our practices (within the system) to make sure that they are the priority. When you and I can do this, I think how the toughness of any given day or year affects us will change.
I will close with another quote. This is from Jaime Escalante (a teacher hero of mine who I think lived out what I am saying here).
You don’t count how many times you are on the floor. You count how many times you get up.
Rough days and years come and go. What matters is what you do about it. How will you learn and move on?
Get back up, Teacher. You are great teacher. You are getting through to your students. You are making a difference. I think you are pretty awesome! Keep on teaching, Teacher!