The end of another school year is coming. Thank god.
This year has been tough on us teachers, probably the kids too. Kids behaviors seem crazier than years past. The current 6th graders were 3rd graders when the pandemic hit. Spent 4th grade probably at home and potentially part of 5th. I teach mainly 7th and some 8th graders. Behaviors are all the same. With this year being back in person full time and “normal,” student behaviors are anything but normal. This lack of knowing how to “do school,” is wearing on teachers.
I’ve never heard so many teachers who are, “Done,” already, and these conversations began months ago.
Maybe it’s because this is my 23rd year in education and everyone who spends 23 years doing something becomes weary of it after awhile. Maybe it’s because I am getting old and my patience is as long as my pinky toenail (hardly enough nail to even paint!) Maybe it’s because the kids are crazy due to the pandemic. Maybe it’s all of that combined into one big ass, teacher frustration stew.
I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know.
As a woman who has been pregnant and experienced labor, you’d think we would never want to go through that again. But we forget. For whatever reason, love of our child…time…forgetfulness…chemicals in our brain…we forget the pain and some of us choose to do it again. And again.
I think teaching is kind of like that, where we forget over the summer the behaviors that drove us to madness, the lack of homework being done, the tremendous amount of late work, and the disrespect and mouth-iness of teenagers. We forget and over the course of two months we read books and take breaks and maybe, just maybe spend a teensy amount of time at an educational conference or read some inspiring teacher book and we find ourselves in mid August, overcome with our desire to change the world, to make it better, to inspire one more and we enter our fall classrooms full of hope and joy.
Just like labor pains, we forget the pains of the classroom.
I love my students. And they drive me bonkers.
I love teaching science. And after 23 years, I do get tired of rehashing the same information (for the most part).
I love seeing and feeling those light bulbs go off in their brains. And I am full to the brim of excuses and justifications from those who don’t and won’t and will never care.
I don’t know what this means for me, or my fellow teachers extraordinaire, but what I do know is this summer will be full of many teachers living it up – drinking that extra bottle of wine, letting those candles burn a little lower, letting that dust in the corner sit a little longer, laughing just a little more and caring just a little less.
For many, it’s all just become too much. Too many tasks piled onto an already crammed day. Too many meetings that didn’t need to happen. Too many asks after a full school day. Too many kids in buildings that are overflowing.
And at the same time, not enough. Not enough time to do all we want and get it all graded with extensive feedback. Not enough desks in the classroom to fit everyone. Not a long enough lunch. Not enough time to collaborate with colleagues. Not enough pay.
And so here we are, four week, five weeks, six weeks to go. Teachers are tired. They are done. Students are wild, ready for summer, feeling older and smarter than they actually are and pushing those invisible boundaries.
Next week is teacher appreciation week, a kind gesture that is often filled with many nice things. But it’s kind of like Valentine’s Day, if you only get love once a year, is it really heartfelt? I don’t need expensive gifts or gift cards or anything really because none of that lessens our load.
Teachers need kids who listen, who want to be there, who do the work, who are building resiliency and learning grit, who show us a future that is strong and wise and not distracted by shiny screens every five seconds. We need communication from admin and parents, and grace given from students who know we are also not perfect, and patience, for ourselves.
I write about this because teaching and student behaviors and administration and equity and professional development and lack of funds and all of it, weighs heavily this year. On many of us.
Writing helps me lighten my load and sharing and being vulnerable, makes me human.
I am a teacher.
What’s your superpower?