Friends, I am weary. I am worn, and I am exhausted. The Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November is almost over, and whether you believe it exists or not, it has gotten the best of me. I sit here, typing this post with a stack of 90 IPAs that I’ve had for over a week that I haven’t touched. I sit here, with 105 assignments to look over and give feedback on. I sit here, with approximately three school days left until a break that I have needed for a very long time. And man, am I tired.
I failed this week, and I failed hard. But, according to most people’s perspectives, I did all of the “right” things: I introduced new vocabulary in context. I started with input. I gave graphic organizers for students to categorize information. I gave exit tickets. I scaffolded the material in a way that seemed appropriate. I checked for understanding. But, despite those efforts, I failed. I pushed kids to produce language before they were ready. I asked questions for choral responses and got frustrated when individual students didn’t know what words meant. I spoke the target language and misinterpreted that my students were comprehending it. I didn’t give appropriate time to process new vocabulary – vocabulary that came much too fast for my students. I got upset that students didn’t remember all of the words we had learned early this year, even though we reviewed them recently and they had no questions. Yesterday was the culmination of several weeks of impatient, overworked, under-appreciated teaching, and I lost it.
My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. We met last night with our realtor, and on our way out, my realtor reminded me for the millionth time: “Wendy, if you ever want to get into realty, you’ve got a job.” And yesterday, I really wanted to say “yes.” I looked into it, by the way – realty. To get your real estate license in Ohio, you need to complete 120 hours of class before you take the tests. And I laughed. “120 hours,” I thought to myself, “that’s about the amount of time I put into 2 1/2 weeks of teaching!” I want to say that I’m exaggerating, but I honestly don’t think that I am. Last night, as my realtor made that joke that probably had some truth behind it, I felt like I could quit.
We went to dinner, my husband and I, and I remember sighing really loudly and saying, “why do I love teaching when teaching doesn’t love me back?” And I think that I meant that I feel undervalued. I feel under-appreciated. I feel forgotten. And I wonder, with all of the assessing, checking, data collecting, and teaching that I’m supposed to be doing – with all of the immediate and appropriate feedback that I’m supposed to be giving – where’s mine? Where is someone, observing me and saying, “whoa, whoa, whoa, Wendy. You’re giving me a red flag today – let’s back up and try that lesson again!” Where are the people to really help me understand what I’m supposed to be doing each step of the way? Where are the reminders that I can use all of the fancy buzzword activities in my class and still miss the mark?
Last night, my loving, wonderful, amazing, patient husband looked back at me and said, “because you love kids. You love helping them with their lives, and you love seeing them do well.” Man, did he nail it. There are so many frustrations of my job – the never-ending cycle of grading and feedback, the lesson planning that consumes my thoughts from the time I open my eyes until the time I go to bed, the times when I have to call parents and guardians because of behavior, discipline, or worry. I’ve cried way more than once over the stresses of this job, but more than anything, I have joy. I well up with pride when I grade a wonderful assessment, I smile from ear to ear when students try to create with the language, and I spend my time amazed by what students can do with what I’ve taught them. My husband reminded me of why I cannot give up.
In case you’re on the edge of your seat, no, I am not going into realty. What kind of example would I set for my students if I quit every single time I failed in the classroom? What message would I send if I didn’t learn from my mistakes and try to be a better teacher for them? What would it mean if I became bitter from lack of recognition, praise, or aid, and just gave up?
It is so normal to be weary. In the light of social media, it feels like everyone we know only does well, so we don’t show our issues! But Meredith said it best when she said that the “highlight reel does not necessarily highlight real.” While people have been going crazy over my new I cans, I’ve been more disheartened with teaching than almost ever before. I was in a meeting yesterday where I told someone that this has been my best year of teaching, and I meant it, and then I had the worst day of my year by far.
Teachers, we will get a rest soon. We’re almost there. Keep going. We may be weary now, but next week, we’ll have a chance to reset. Stay strong.