I am in the trenches with you! This has been a long week. I am tired. I am beat up. I am worn out. I am not broken, but I am a little battered.
Do you feel the same way? If not today, have you recently?
I talk a lot about the pressures and struggles of teaching and the difficulty in finding balance while juggling a thousand things at once. I won’t remind us of that today. We know what we have to do. We know how hard it is. We don’t need to be re-educated on those things we know oh so well.
I am in a reflective mood. In this time of reflection, I am thinking a lot about what are really the roots of my frustration right now. I really don’t think it has anything to do with the students. I don’t think it is the burden of having so many responsibilities every minute of every day. I don’t think it is the pressures form above me in the hierarchy of things. I don’t think it is the content or curriculum. I don’t think it has much to do with the job of teaching at all. I think it has everything to do with me.
I don’t think I have focus.
I am not saying that I am not focused as a teacher. I am not saying that I am not looking to the standards for direction. I am not saying that I have forgotten my heart for students. I am not saying I do not see my place in the span of things at my school. I think I have a focus on all of these things, and everything else that I should.
And therein lies the problem.
The funny thing about focus is that it is very specific and pointed. When you focus on something, everything around it is slightly more blurry, even if just an imperceptible amount. You cannot truly have more than one focus.
What you focus on is the center of what you do. Everything else gets a little less attention and energy. It has to be this way. If it is not, then you are not really focused on anything.
When you focus on more than one thing at the same time (or many, many, many things), your energy is scattered. Your mind is scattered. Your heart and your soul is scattered.
When you are scattered, you are all over the place. You cannot sustain that. It will lead to frustration, heartache, and burnout. You can not run in more than one direction. You can not have more than one main goal. It just is not possible, at least not at the level it takes to be effective and meaningful.
So, that leaves me with the question, “What do I do now, Self?”
I find the goal that matters most. The goal that I lost along the way. I make that my focus. I give that my energy. I give that my all.
And what is that goal?
I don’t even have to think about the question to answer it. My students are my goal. Their growth, maturity, and becoming learners and people that care about other people is what I personally care the most about. Their who I work for, in essence. They are my reason for all that I do as a teacher.
What does this mean, then, to what I do day-to-day?
It means I weigh decisions based on what they need. It means I get to know them so that I know what they need. I means that I make sure I am not losing them for the sake of lesser goals (like following lesson plans to a “t,” sticking to a strategy that I am told is excellent when it is not working for my students, or staying “on-pace” when my students are falling behind). It means that I work on finding strategies that work for them. It means I am willing to have more than one lesson plan for the day because some students need a little more than others. It means I differentiate, I means I encourage and affirm them. It means I write notes, make parent phone calls, and take time to just say, “Hi, how are you doing?” It means that I never give up. It means that I find a way to reach each and every one of my students. No matter what!
If I find the lost goal…if I make the old goal my new one…if I commit to keeping my focus where it matters most…I will change the world. I will change my students. I will change myself.
I don’t know if this rang true to you, but it is an open and honest reflection for me. This was needed. Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Do you need to readjust your focus, too? Join me in doing that today!
You are awesome! If you are here, it is because you are trying to be the best teacher you can be and looking for a boost of encouragement to keep up the fight. I hope you found that today. You deserve to be encouraged! You are a great, awesome, and amazing teacher! Your students are your goal. They are what really matter. Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep making that difference! Keep on teaching, Teacher!