You can’t care more than they do.

I have been listening out there. Teachers are BURNT. Not in like a cool way either. In a very real, I-don’t-know-if-I-can-keep-this-up way.  It lit a fire under me, because something has to change.

This is where you think I’m going to go into a side speech about how society doesn’t value teachers, children are more difficult today than they were, kids are being parented by electronic devices…ok…and maybe all of that is true.  I will be honest that the amount of behavioral issues that I see now in the classroom have risen to extreme levels.  That said, we can’t control any of that.  So how do we fix it? Do less.

Say what?

The demands of teachers have risen exponentially. Between student learning goals, standardized testing, running records, test prep, merit pay, etc, we can sometimes feel like a victim to our circumstances.  We feel like we lack control as professionals to do what we think is best, and honestly – we do. So, since we cannot fix that – we must fix something else.

Anna, you are confusing me…what is your point? Ok. I’ll get to it.

We can’t control the world, we can only control our outlook and how we approach every day. 

There is something I say to my class when they are feeling demotivated, “I can’t care more than you do.” Your extra care doesn’t make up for the parent that won’t discipline their child at home. Your three hours after school designing a test won’t change the fact that the child didn’t study. Grading at 6am on Saturday won’t magically make a child pass.

It’s time to cut out our extra heart that we put into the profession.  We are professionals. Yes, we care but we don’t have to pour our soul into a profession that simply cannot give it back to us.  Yes, we do it for the kids, but kids needs adults that are well rested and balanced.  Yes, we go the extra mile to make sure kids are successful, but they also need to be taught to go the extra mile for themselves.

Put your energy into the things that will pay you back. Instead of designing the pinterest-worthy lesson, sit down with a kid who is struggling and talk to them about what’s going on. Instead of grading at 6am on Saturday have your kids self-correct, only grade 3 problems, or check it off as participation. Instead of spending your energy wondering why that parent won’t back you up, invest in a good bottle of wine, therapy, netflix, your energy into building partnerships with all parents so you have a variety of parents that will help.

That’s real.

You can’t save every student. You can’t win every battle. You can’t even win half of them.  The only battle you can win is the outlook you have on the profession. To do this profession, we need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. We must work hard, care about our students, but move away from the idea that our lives must be teaching.

Put down the grading, step away from the computer (unless you are watching Netflix, do that), and leave that teaching bag in the corner!  Then, and only then, will we start to see a shift in the culture around teaching. If we can’t make decisions about policy, standardized tests, or pay…we can make decisions about ourselves.

You need this, because you are an amazing teacher. You deserve to be an amazing human too.

If you still hear yourself saying “I have to do this,” check out Stop being a martyr!