Weary

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.

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18 thoughts on “Weary

  1. Oh my goodness, Wendy! You are saying the same things that I have every been saying this year. I told my husband one day that I just want a job that I don’t have to take home. But like you, I love working with the kids and seeing and hearing their progress in French. This may just be one of those years and we are entitled to them occasionally. Don’t throw in the towel yet – it will get better. It might not until the summer but it will. Just keep ploughing through it and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it’s there, I just don’t know how long the tunnel is. Keep fighting the good fight! You’re a great teacher!

    1. I’ve told my husband the SAME thing! I don’t plan on throwing in the towel, but I think we’ve all thought about it at some point or another! Thank you for the kind words, and I hope that your year gets better as well!

  2. This post really hit home for me. I’m in my third year, the year many used to describe to me as the one when you finally feel like you’ve got the hang of things, but with a new class and constantly wanting to improve, I feel more overwhelmed than ever. I, too, have started wondering if I can handle this career long term. I’ve even had family tell me to quit and find something new because they see the great stress I’m under. I still feel like I’m in this fog and hope the upcoming break will help me break out of it. This job takes a lot, and it’s far too easy to let the challenges overwhelm the positives. Thank you for your honestly and allowing me to relate to someone!

    1. Kristen, I know exactly how you feel – this is year four for me, and it finally felt like I knew how to do my job! But we all have ups and downs, and we have to remember that it’s so hard because we strive to get better – that’s what makes us great teachers! Constant improvement is such a hard cycle, but we – and our students! – are better for it. You can’t give up, either.

    1. I’m glad to hear that neither of us are alone! I have not yet mastered the ability to read minds, but maybe some day – then I’ll know how to reach my students even better!

  3. I wonder if you might consider a methodology that has swept Canada and is now becoming increasingly popular in the US? It is called AIM. It engages, motivates and helps students achieve greater success faster than teachers have ever seen before. It has changed the lives of many teachers and inspired them to continue when they were ready to leave the profession. Please have a look at the website.
    http://www.aimlanguagelearning.com

  4. I absolutely understand your frustration! I would love to recommend something that has helped me and many teachers in Canada. It is a methodology called AIM – it has changed their teaching experience. You can find out more at http://www.aimlanguageleanring.com. The results in my classes and in other teachers classes in Canada and the US have been astonishing!! Many teachers’ lives have been changed and I know some who have decided to stay in teaching as a result!

  5. Merci for such an honest description of the emotions we all have as teachers. You have to keep remembering how inspiring you are to your students (and your virtual colleagues)! Be grateful you have this opportunity! I know I am! I “retired” from teaching high school French in 2008 to stay at home with my son, and even though I tutored & taught part-time at a community college, I missed my high school classroom so much that it was painful at times. After repeatedly not hearing back about those rare vacancies at local high schools over the past 4 years, I was afraid I would never return to my passion, but I persevered & am now rebuilding the French program at the most diverse public high school in the state. I still have those dark & horrible days, but I now know from experience that life could be much much worse (i could be working at
    The Limited again! Quelle horreur!!!)

    C’est presque Noël – les vacances d’hiver sont à nous!!

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