I never thought I would be a teacher.
I had seen my mom work with kids my whole life. She talked a lot about how her job was great for a single mom. I agreed with her. So, when I became a single mom, despite already deep in a business program, I fell into a preschool teaching position. I used it as a launch pad for my teaching career.
And so it began.
I went to school to become a teacher after I finished my BS in Business. I wanted a practical degree, and I enrolled in a MAT program a few years later. I wanted a practical profession. The one my mom had talked about. Never did I ever think it would the way it is today. Frankly, she didn’t either.
Teaching is demanding. It is challenging because we must fill everyone’s needs first. We must fill them quickly, immediately, and our off days cannot be spent behind a closed door. We have to live them out in front of an audience. Having a rough day? Too bad; smile, perform, and take care of others first.
Teaching has become so demanding that there are shortages everywhere. We see more and more qualified, talented, and caring teachers leaving the profession to pursue other professions. Ones that they can come home from work and leave their job back at the office.
Teaching isn’t that job.
So, if you are in a space where you are burnt out. You are considering other avenues of making money, it’s time to consider this…
Teaching has changed. I know that from listening to other teachers constantly. Children have changed, parents have changed, teaching has change…what hasn’t changed? Our expectations.
We expect teaching to be a profession that it used to be – less red tape, fewer demands, more compliant children. Yet, the reality is, teaching has become a minefield. It is filled with red tape, expectations that are borderline unrealistic, and classrooms full of challenging behaviors in our children.
So do you want to stop hating your job, or to be fair, aspects of your job?
Change your expectations. Accept the reality. Live in the world we are in, instead of wishing for the times that have passed. We have to give less of our hearts, be wise about our energy levels and take care of ourselves again. The necessity to preserve ourselves, love for teaching, and our sanity is now.
The reality we live in is that kids are more entitled, less disciplined, and parents are less likely to support our decisions. Administrators are worried about getting sued. The state tests are important for funding, parent approval, and looking at your abilities.
It’s true. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality.
So, how do we love our jobs again? How do we accept that reality.
Here’s what I have been thinking about:
- Create systems in your life that will drastically increase your energy levels. Systemize the way you do groceries, laundry, meals, pick clothes and even taking your children to their activities.
- Limit yourself to the minimum amount of grading.
- Skeleton lesson plan first, then go back and add any details needed.
- Choose 1-2 things to be good at: : Literacy? Math? Centers? Classroom management? Work on that!
- Take criticism with a grain of salt. Got a bad review, a nasty email – bring yourself back to your core. What is true for you?
- Meet everyone’s crankiness with kindness. Realize that almost everything that comes at you from someone is ABOUT THEM! Meet it with firm kindness.
- Give yourself a vacation from your own expectations. We are our worst critics! You have to give yourself some wiggle room to be late home sometimes, take more papers home than you wish you were for grading, not get back to that parent within 24 hours, and sometimes let your kids silent read too much.
- Keep high expectations for your classroom, but let go of the small stuff. The kid who is always tipping his chair back, quietly correct him, but after the 14th time, let. it. go.
Now I’m not suggesting saying “screw it” to everything. I’m simply stating the importance of making life easier for you, because the job is getting harder. The areas that we can make easy: home, kindness to ourselves, and expectations. Most importantly, change your mindset (which we’ll talk about more next week), remind yourself that nothing “should” be a certain way.
Accept your reality and teach on!