Monday, February 17, 2014

Feeling Lost

I made it!  It’s Winter Break here in my area of the world and I am beyond thankful for the time off.  I had a pretty nice week with my kiddos before break.  We definitely had fun together on Friday, which was Valentine’s AND the 100th Day.  So fun!  I planned to take pics, but my camera battery died and I didn’t go in on the weekend like I planned to snap some. It was nice to just have fun with my class.  I haven’t done much of that this year.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while, but didn’t want to complain or say those things that I think a lot of us think but never say about our jobs. I know the blogging world it full of amazing positive and creative posts, but I’m just worn out.  I have continued to read a few of my favorite blogs, but other than that, I have stepped away from the blogging world for a while. I have been in a rut – both professionally and on my blog. I have been so tired that I can’t summon the strength to be creative.

Yep, that’s me – fluffy and yellow Winking smile

I love education and I used to love to teach.  I feel like that is awful to admit, but there just isn’t much to like anymore.  I recently read a blog post (I’m sorry that I can’t remember who it was) and she talked about being in love with the “idea” of teaching but not loving teaching. I’m feeling like that is where I am now.  I also used to feel like I was really good at my job and I did great things in my classroom.  It didn’t mind the extra time and hard work I put into it. Now I feel like I have been squashed like a bug.  I don’t have a philosophy or direction anymore because we do it all because we have to be the best and we have to get the test scores or we are obviously not doing the right thing. 

Uh huh!

This job is just getting too hard.  I’ll admit it. I think there are so many teachers who avoid saying things like that because we are trained not to.  We are essentially trained to be selfless in this job and work very very hard.  Think about it – all the experiences in college, student teaching (which is really an unpaided internship), the long hours we work outside of our jobs just to keep our classrooms running and the personal money we spend to get the things we need to do our job. But the reality is, the difficultly has quadrupled in the 13 years since I began teaching and it was challenging then as well.

In short, I think we are taken advantage of. We work so hard and come back every year just to do it again.  I heard someone compare teaching to childbirth – you forget the pain of labor afterwards. In teaching, you forget the challenges of the year when summer comes and you can recharge.

Well, I’m not recharging anymore.  I’m just tired all the time and feel like I am so overwhelmed with my job that it is all I can do to drag myself into work every day.  I panic when someone interrupts my lunch because I NEED that time for prep work.  This is 13 years into this profession.

I think this is truly how APPR scores are determined!

I do not get emotional on the last day of school, like I used to.  I have packed up my classroom within the expected time frame the last couple years when I used to stay for at least a week and lovingly pack up my room.  I used to feel like my classroom was my second home and I loved being there, now I feel a cross between anxiety and annoyance at being in my room. I used to live in my room on weekends and breaks, now I can go an entire week off and the summer without setting foot into my room (wherever it may be that year – I’ve moved…a lot!).

Is it my personality, my current position, or the profession?  Maybe a bit of each. I mean, I see my colleagues working themselves to exhaustion and illness as well.  I’m actually one of my peers who seems to draw the line a lot quicker than many others.  (I’ve sadly become that person who asks, “Where is this in my contract?”) So, maybe it’s not totally my personality.

I made moves towards making changes in my profession, but going back to college has been both exhilarating and exhausting.  I’m hoping that I made the right choice in going back because goodness know the cost is crazy and I could be doing so many other things than worrying about making the bills and avoiding taking loans out. Is it another job? In this market?  With the uncertainty of healthcare and tenure and climbing in seniority?  I’ve started to think, maybe it is worth taking the risk to try something new and fight for a new position.  If teaching is becoming a business, then why shouldn’t I think of my position as someone in the business world would – move on when there is a better/different offer. I just don’t want to look back in 20 or 30 years and think “why did I do that for so long when I was so miserable?”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am trying to figure out how to love what I do again – and how to have enough energy when my day is over to come home and do laundry and maybe, just maybe, do something fun for myself and my family. What…have a real life?!?  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  I’m not really sure what that looks like.  Would I be able to go to the grocery store without scoring some amazing item for centers?

This has been my thinking the last couple years.  I have not had an easy career and every once and a while I look back on it and think that I must be crazy to put myself through so much and keep coming back for more. Maybe this is (another) early life crisis, maybe it is being in my 30s and feeling like time is passing so quickly.

Does anyone else feel burned out and tired? Silly question, right??? What are you doing to maintain your love of teaching and not turn into that teacher who should have retired a long time ago (you know the one Winking smile)?

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