Twenty- four years and counting
May I be honest with my colleagues for about a page or two?
It is now a little over 100 days into my twenty-fourth year of teaching. My soul is tired. Has anything drastic happened in my classroom thus far? No. Yet, the continuous daily battles of the public educator weigh me down almost daily. The lack of respect, the constant need to fight legislature, disrespectful parents and students has finally taken its toll on my morale.
You see, I am passionate about teaching. I enjoy the thrill of seeing a student’s brain turning as we embrace new concepts in the classroom. It gives me joy when a student is encouraged by the way I take the time necessary to develop a relationship with each one. I nurture my students beyond the academic initiatives placed before me often times without clear directives.
I have taught thousands of students throughout the span of my career. For every victory in the classroom, I can recount a moment of heartbreak. I am honored to be a seed planter in the lives of now registered nurses, insurance agents, doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, musicians, counselors, social workers, police officers, firemen, principals, fellow teachers, etc. You name the profession and more than likely I have a flourishing flower in that field.
Yet, my soul is tired. I think teacher burnout has finally hit my mentality and it has little to do with my student’s overall behavior. We all know that being a teacher is a noble profession. However teachers are for the most part notably unnoticed when it comes to mental health. Districts proclaim that the mission is for the greater good of the students, all while failing to realize that the roots of the profession are wilting away. I am overworked with reworded “new” initiatives that do nothing but drain me and pull me away from the passion of teaching.
The expectation of leadership is for teachers to trust and respect their decision. Yet, those same leaders often refuse to acknowledge the supportive needs of teachers. The words “take care of yourself emotionally” are trotted across the websites yet, where is the support of such wonders within the school walls for educators? Yes, after twenty-four years of teaching I am now being selfish in saying that I deserve better! It makes no logical sense to me why teachers must continuously battle against the “system” for what is rightfully ours, peace of mind. It’s ironic to me how those who make the decisions on best practices for teachers once sat in classrooms becoming the leaders of today. Now, most chose to ignore the needs of the seed planters that once nourished them.
A caring teacher has to greet students each day with a smile and new mercies. As a high school teacher that can mean well over 100 students every day. No matter what the pressures of my personal life are, I must leave them somewhere on the expressway as I drive in to work daily so that I can be my absolute best as a teacher. Now, most days I sit in my truck for about five minutes giving myself a peptalk before going into my school building. My soul is tired.
Students as expected who may not possess the ability to have self-control are able to stay in their zone of the day. They get to treat us with the lowest levels of respect and we have to forgive and move forward with the job expectations. Where is the place of safety for educators to release all the mental anguish together and be replenished? I see corporate America providing retreats for employees. We get summers “off” as some would voice. Yes, I take time during the summer to nourish my soul from the harshness of those 187 days. Yet, my soul is tired. I leave work mentally drained knowing that there is no support in the district to build my morale. The statement “You cannot pour from an empty cup” is true. My cup no longer runs over; it is almost squeaky dry.
Thank you for reading.