The Teacher Blues

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This summer I will celebrate my 17th year of teaching. During those 17 years, I have been a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teacher. I served as a Title I Resource Teacher for 3rd-5th grades, and I took one year off to substitute, as a pre-school teacher while my middle child was a baby.  I even enjoyed some time as an adjunct faculty college professor for Polk State College.   The purpose of listing my teaching experiences is not to brag or boast my resume, but rather it’s to admit that after 17 years of teaching, I still feel like I am growing, stretching, and resurfacing as a different teacher every year. There are still those ups and downs of not feeling adequate enough…not meeting the needs of every child. There are times I get the “teacher blues.”

You know the “teacher blues.” Sometimes, you question whether or not you are a good enough teacher. Am I doing enough for every child? Why isn’t this working? How can I do this better? Why are my scores so low?   Why can’t I think of creative and neat activities that are on Pinterest? Why don’t the parents understand how much I am doing for their children? Then, you find yourself comparing yourself to other teachers and wishing you could be just like them. Your feelings of inadequacy cause you not to ask for help or collaborate, because you don’t want to admit that you don’t have all the answers.

I have these “teacher blues” time to time, and I have to remind myself that when I feel this way that these are just “feelings.” Feelings are not always truth, and teachers should remind themselves that life is NOT perfect. Our students will sometimes struggle with concepts. Parents don’t always see the big picture. We don’t always have to do everything over the top like on Pinterest. Most of all, teachers are all different. I am different. I do not have the same strengths as another teacher, and that teacher won’t have the same strengths as me. If we let our “teacher blues” get the best of us, then we won’t be OUR BEST as teachers. We don’t collaborate. My students will not get the best of me if I let the “teacher blues” override me every time. Feeling inadequate takes away the confidence I need as a teacher to meet the needs of every child. It takes away the hope and idealism that I believe in as an educator.

The point is that you, as a teacher, care enough to be your best. That’s why you do question yourself. You are the person who cares about whether or not you are meeting your students’ needs. But at the end of the day, your students will remember you for being a kind, compassionate, loving soul. They will remember that you gave it your all, and that’s all we can do…give it our best. So, the next time you are feeling the “teacher blues,” just remember that: You.Are.Awesome.

Setting Priorities in the New Year

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After a long hiatus from posting any blogs, I have returned with my feelings, thoughts, and words.  This school year brought a lot of changes with a new administration, set of new students with different needs, and the necessity to spend more time with family.  I chose to place priority on the important things of life this school year, and that is so important to being an effective teacher.

Burn out is so common among teachers, especially teachers who are so dedicated and committed to reflecting upon their instruction and making it better.  Time is spent researching strategies, planning effective lessons, organizing necessary materials, and loving on each student.  We are the first ones to arrive at school and the last ones to drive away from the parking lot.  Sometimes, our weekends are spent in our classroom.  You know who you are…you are the teacher who cares so much, and you feel like if you aren’t committed with your time, then you must not be as effective or care so much.

But what happens to this kind of teacher?  They burn out.  They lose that energy that makes the classroom “come alive.”  Therefore, it’s so important for us to set our priorities in a way that doesn’t produce a “fizzle.”  As teachers, it’s so important to:

  •  Put family first.  Our family is our primary responsibility, and if we expect our students’ parents to put their kids first, then we must do the same.  We, as parents, are the primary teachers of our own children.
  • Make time for yourself.  Research continually demonstrates that rest and relaxation is important.  Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep.  Trust me…as a parent of three kids, I know this is so hard!!  However, even if it’s for an hour, do something for YOU!  The laundry can wait, and the papers really don’t have to be graded that day.
  • Learn how to delegate.  Use your parent volunteers.  Giving up control is hard, but your parents really want to feel a part of the school community.  Use them to file papers, cut out lamination, make copies, or even work with students.  You would be surprised how much students can learn from other adults.
  • Most importantly, know that caring is sometimes enough.  We put too much stress on ourselves as teachers.  At the end of the day, your student is going to remember you for whether or not you showed that you cared about them.  They might not remember the most fabulous technology lesson, exciting field trip, or phenomenal activity.  However, they will always remember if you demonstrated compassion and love towards them.

May all my teacher peeps have a wonderful 2016 school year.  May each of you take the time to set priorities this year in order to be a more effective teacher.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do.