The other day I felt that familiar hot streak of panic rush through my chest as I stared down a mound of ungraded assignments, as a slew of unanswered emails festered in my inbox, as the guidance department requested a meeting for that “special” student.
To all those stressed-out teachers… I feel you.
Make no mistake, we’re in the armpit of the school year.
Winter break is over. Spring break is light years away. It’s a stretch of time where the teaching blood runs cold, where like sunlight, hope and motivation work in slivers, and where June seems like an impossible dream.
But I reassure you friends…there is hope. There is good news.
The calendar will continue to turn over. Spring break will come. Summer will happen.
But in order to get to our flip-flopian paradise we must roll up our sleeves, roll back our shoulders, and stare down some hard truths…
You will lose your lunch and prep periods.
Administration will make decisions you don’t agree with.
You will spend hours completing nonsensical, state-mandated paperwork.
Your students will celebrate when you’re absent.
You will consider a career change.
Your coffee will turn cold.
You will disagree with your observation.
You will want alcohol before lunch.
You will hear the upcoming grade is worse then the current grade.
You will get sick.
You will be overwhelmed by acronyms (PLC, SLO, SGO, PAARC, CST, CCCS, IEP, NCLB)
A colleague will stress bake, deliver a plate of confections to the faculty lounge and you will stuff your face. Then you will feel guilty. Then you will ponder a diet. Then you will realize you don’t have time to diet.
Your students will fail the test you spent weeks preparing them for.
You will compare yourself to your colleagues and convince yourself you’re the worst teacher in the world.
Your printer will run out of ink.
The school copy machine will jam at the most inopportune time.
You will spend hours writing and editing an 8 sentence email to a parent. And after you send it you will find a grammatical error.
You will endure uninspiring professional development.
Just when you get your class settled and focused there will be an unannounced fire drill.
You will call a student by the wrong name.
You will submit your lesson plans late.
You will be more excited about your lesson then your students will be.
On Friday, you will convince yourself that you will spend the entire weekend grading. On Saturday, you will convince yourself you will grade on all day Sunday. On Sunday, instead of grading, you will drink wine and binge watch Lifetime movies.
You will lose your favorite pen.
Students will dispute grades.
Parents will dispute grades.
You will feel like crying when you learn there’s 20 full school days in March.
You will lose sleep over things that won’t matter in a week.
After 13 years of teaching, here’s what I’ve learned– acknowledging these inconvenient truths is the first step in overcoming them.
Worrying about them will instigate ulcers.
Avoiding them will incite paranoia.
Remember, you are a teacher. You are a problem solver. The only thing we can do about our inconvenient truths is address them, solve them, and resolve them.
And if you can do that my friend, you will emerge from the murk. You will find yourself, many days from now, lounging on a sandy beach, sipping that alcohol you desperately craved on that cold January morning, bathing in the dreamy June sun.