My mom has warned me about a lot of things in life. She’s tried to protect me and guide me since I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I’m a rather stubborn girl that tends to follow my own desires/logic rather than heed Mom’s advice.
When I was 4 years old, she told me to get down from standing on a plastic chair, and I was stubborn and eventually fell off of it and landed on my arm, breaking it in two.
When I was beginning college and trying to determine a major, I told her that I was thinking about teaching. She, having many years of experience in the classroom, warned me that it was a difficult job. She reminded me of the long days, the exhaustion she’d come home to a large family with, and the countless extra hours spent at the school, but I was stubborn and didn’t listen. I loved my education classes. I loved the age group I had chosen to work with: middle school students. I loved the subjects (language arts and social studies) that I eventually chose to become certified in.
I wish I had listened.
Right now I find myself in a very difficult position. I’ve been trying to explain it to people for a while now, but every time I seem to come up short.
I love so many parts of my job. I love the people I work with. They care about me and I care about them. I have a work environment where every other adult on the payroll wants to see me succeed and do well at my job, which I feel is a rare thing in today’s world. I love getting to be
creative and make things. Getting an idea and being able to run with it and see it come to fruition is an incredible thing. I love my kids. They frustrate me at times, but I love hearing their stories and seeing them grow and develop into teenagers- figuring out the world a little bit at a time. I love getting to be an actress every day and put on a smile and get in front of my class and be energetic and try to engage them and (somewhat) entertain them as the day trudges along. I love those parts of my job.
There are parts that I don’t like though. I could go into specific stories that end with me crying in my car or in my classroom at all times of the day. I could tell you about lessons that have completely failed and moments when I “wrote” my lesson plan in the car on the way to school that day. I could tell you about students and parents that make me want to scream ugly things. I could tell you about the overwhelming feeling I have throughout most of the year. I could rant about the lack of discipline and rise in inappropriate behaviors. All of these things bother me. However, today I think I figured out my main qualm about education: a lack of direction and too much going on.
No one seems to know what they heck they’re doing, and the things that we are doing, we only do for a little while until we’re told to do something else. There is no time to do anything well. I’m a person that likes things done well. I dive into things and give 110% of myself because I want what I do to matter, and I want to be successful. It’s hard to do that when you’re being told to do 100 different things. It’s hard to be successful at everything.
Make sure they know all the standards. Implement all 504 and IEP plans fully and with fidelity. Make your teaching fun and interesting. Develop personal relationships with all of your students. Incorporate STEM initiatives and problem based learning into as much of your curriculum as possible. Oh yeah, write your own curriculum- don’t worry, there are hundreds of thousands of websites and resources out there for you to look through. Analyze all the testing data of all of your students and make all of your decisions in the classroom based on results. Individualize lessons as much as possible. Volunteer for after school activities and extra curriculars.
Teach your kids to be nice and caring. Teach them to think critically. Make sure you help students develop a positive image about themselves. Teach social skills. Teach them appropriate technology use. And keep your room looking great- no one likes a trashy looking school.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist. There are a lot of things happening. There are a million things to keep in mind, and you have to keep them in mind all day, every day. It doesn’t end when the kids leave. It doesn’t end on the weekends. It doesn’t end over Christmas or summer break. As a teacher, you’re constantly thinking about your kids. There is always something to do. They always need something. I don’t stay late and work on the weekends and over breaks in an effort to get ahead or in an effort to better my practice. Most of the time I do it just to survive the next day of teaching.
The sad thing is, my mom told me it would be like this. When I told her I was going to school to be a teacher, she didn’t jump up and down with excitement. She was very honest with me. “You know how hard that is going to be,” she said. She never discouraged me or told me to not do it. She knew by then that her words couldn’t change my stubborn spirit. I had my mind made up. But she tried to warn me, and I wish I would have listened.
So now I find myself confused, working in a job that I love and hate. A job that kills me but gives me purpose. A job that I feel like I need to leave but can’t whole heartedly turn my back on just yet.
Give it another year. Things will get better. It will get easier. You’ll figure out what to do. You’ll be good at this one day. I keep telling myself these things. I keep praying. Praying for direction or strength. Direction and strength. I’m in a rut.
Lord, speak to me. I’m listening.