Days like today make me second guess being a teacher. The crew this year is exhausting. I’m only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have to think this group of 13 year-olds may be one of the more difficult groups I’ll come across on my teaching path. I know other professions have their stresses. I know I could have it a lot worse… but really, today, I don’t know if I can.
There wasn’t one specific incident. I tried to plan a fun unit to end the school year with. I wanted to give them a break from the heavy critical thinking questions that normally go hand in hand with a novel in my classroom. But my hard work goes unnoticed by know-it-all, disrespectful, rude, loud, stinky, oily, 7th seventh graders. Too harsh? Nahh. Try spending a day in my classroom and see how much alcohol you need to drink when you get home.
The sad part is, these kids don’t realize what I do has nothing to do with academics. Yes, teachers teach skills – math skills, reading skills, writing skills, logic and sequential skills, but teaching, especially middle school students, goes so much deeper than that. We are teaching them how to overcome obstacles. We are teaching them how to resolve a problem that is not easily solved. We are teaching them how to create and build relationships. We are teaching them how to persevere and not give up when things get tough. We are teaching them responsibilities. We are teaching them how to work collaboratively with others. We are teaching them how to grow up.
My students don’t realize how many nights I lay awake thinking of ways to better my teachings.They don’t realize how much I blame myself when they don’t rise to the bar I set for them. They don’t understand how much my heart melts when I see a light bulb click. They don’t comprehend how much I care about them.
I have so much compassion. I have so much patience. I have so much to give.
As I sit here and write this, I’ve realized I’m, in fact, turning into my 7th graders. I have a problem. What will I choose to do? I am going to throw my hands in the air and declare it hopeless? Am I going to whine to my colleagues how exhausted I am? Will I say the words, ‘I give up?’ Am I going to run away from it, like my students do?
Am I going to practice what I preach? Will I reach for the bar I’ve set for myself as an educator? Am I going to persevere?
I am not a quitter.
Tomorrow’s a new day. A blank slate. I will enter my classroom with a warm smile, a spring in my step, and a new attitude.
It’s also Friday 🙂