Ive reached that point in the year where I am,just mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. Yes, teaching is a calling… a passion… a lifestyle… a career… but it is still just plain hard work. If you are reading this you probably are, or know someone that is, a teacher and likely understand. I grew up in a blue collar/working class town in upstate western New York. My father has worked in a factory for 40 plus years. That work is physically demanding and I’ve seen the literal scars that prove it. This exhaustion is different than the physical drain the I remember working summers at the factory with my dad. This is a mental fatigue, an emotional bleed, a psychic trauma.
Rather than diagnose the cause of this professorial melancholy (some combo of student behavior, bureaucratic requirements, grading, self imposed expectations) maybe it will be more helpful to think of some solutions. Since I use this blog to help myself improve as much as to help others maybe this will help rekindle rather than burn out. Maybe some followers will offer some helpful comments.
Self Care Ideas:
- Excercise – I really enjoy running. It is my form of meditation and in a job that stresses mental acuity, physical fitness is sometimes put on the backburner. This time of year there seems to never be enough time. I have to start planning this better.
- Playing with my Kids – I came home tonight and my boys (7 and 4) were playing outside. We played basketball for an hour or so. No cell phones. No TV. Lots of laughs though. That was nice. Need to remember to to this more too.
- Avoid Education Twitter – Not sure how controversial this will be considering I promote my blog on Twitter. To be clear some chats are great! #XPLAP #XPLAPcamp #games4ed. These chats have a good following of people that generally know one another and are interested in learning and supporting others efforts. Some Ed Twitter though feels more like educations version of a beauty magazine. On the surface it seems to be helping you improve but really just ends up making you feel inferior. Now that I’m thinking of it, I hope this blog doesn’t do that. I do make an effort to stay honest, show the classroom warts, and my efforts to improve. Hmm…
- Writing – speaking of this blog, the reflection process of writing does actually help ease some of the burn out. Thinking about how much goes into the class and why it is there does seem to help.
- Read something not school related – My version of a beach read is actually historic non-fiction. I was 3 chapters into Chandra Manning’s Troubled Refuge when the school year started… I’m still on chapter 3. I wonder if reading and taking a break from planning would help.
- Do something new with my wife – easier did than done. She’s also a teacher… And we have two boys… And another on the way… Still, a date night doing something other than eating at a pmace we always go to would be nice.
- Write out a Gratitude List – For awhile, when we sat for dinner each member of the family would say something we were thankful for that day. Usually its something little… My youngest sons best friend was at daycare or my oldest sons tooth was wiggly… Sometimes its bigger. Someone is out of the hospital or I saw a former student that turned her life around. In some strange alchemy of the human mind saying thank you seems to lead to being more thankful.
Remember to put your own O2 on first. On an airplane they remind parents to put their own oxygen mask on first. If you don’t take care of yourself then you will be no,good to your kids. Maybe this is a good classroom rule too.