Do you ever feel like a lot rests on your teacher shoulders?
Like, the fine print of your job description states, Take care of everything and everyone.
Take care of:
- lesson plans
- field trips
- behavior problems
- parent expectations
- student meltdowns
- school district dysfunction
- AND. So. Much. More! The list could go on and on.
The point is…being a teacher comes with loads of responsibilities. That’s a given. BUT
AND I MEAN A BIG BUT HERE
You NEVER HAVE TO:
- Be Responsible For Other People’s Decisions: For example, a good teacher friend of mine is beating herself up. After a recent IEP meeting, it became clear, that her suggestions for helping a student were not aligning with the parent’s vision. Many sleepless nights and stomach aches later my friend was in a constant state of worry. The parents refused to see her point of view. There is only so much teachers can do when advocating for a student. Carrying the weight of a parent’s decision only takes up valuable real-estate in your mind. Let it go. ‘Ultimate Decision Maker/Controller’ is NOT in your job description. Yes, we often know what is best for our students, BUT that doesn’t mean that it’s our call to make.
- Give Up Your Teacher Hopes and Dreams: I’ve had points in my teaching career where I almost gave up. Layoffs, nightmare principals, difficult colleagues, challenging students, school years that would NEVER END…all of this got in the way of me being the best teacher. Education is often labeled as a ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘broken’ system. Teachers are almost expected to suffer. No, I don’t think so. “Suffering” is NOT in your job description. Your teacher hopes and dreams are important. If you’re drowning and in a toxic teaching situation stop being a martyr. Get out. Switch schools, grades… do what it takes to land at a school where you are encouraged. You owe it to yourself. I moved schools and took a HUGE dock in pay. $10,000 yearly pay-cut. Ouch. Brutal, but SO WORTH IT. Why? Working for a principal that I valued and respected was priceless.
- Feel Alone: Teaching can be isolating. Once that classroom door closes, it’s like you’re on an island. You and a room full of kids. Just because you teach children all day DOES NOT MEAN you can’t have fun adult interaction. If you don’t connect with the colleagues at your school search online for teacher friends. The online teacher community is vibrant and helpful. Joining Teach Happy Membership would be a great place to start.
- Feel Guilty: I have a feeling your to-do list is miles long! You have so much on your plate. Do you leave school every day feeling guilty? You think, SHOOT! I didn’t DO this, I should’ve SAID this, I could’ve TRIED this…on and on. The mental chatter of a teacher is hard to stop. Our jobs are so incredibly complex that no matter how many hours and days we work we STILL can’t get everything done. So what is good enough? Your value as a teacher is not defined by how long your to-do list is.
- Worry About The Future: The culture of teacher conversation has become very worry focused. For example, worrying about state testing and student scores. Yes this is a worry, BUT worrying about it doesn’t help make the situation better. Take one day, hour, minute, second, and NANO-SECOND at a time. Focus on the present moment. Do what you can in the present moment to help your students succeed. TEACHER (does not have to) = WORRIER.
- Hide Your Feelings: I get it. Teachers have to put on a brave face. Professionalism is keeping emotions in check at school. Have you ever walked around school with a smile on your face but sad on the inside? I have. When my dad passed away, I was a walking FAKE smile. Despite the pain and sadness in my heart, I walked around school as if nothing happened. An Oscar winning performance. It’s not in your job description to be a robot. Emotionless. Find places and times during the day to let your guard down. Go in your car at recess and cry. Drive home from work with resting bitch face the entire way. Call a friend and vent. Punch a pillow at home in anger. Climb to the top on a hill and scream. Teaching requires you to stuff your feelings. Find a way to let those feelings OUT.
- Know Everything: I remember when I moved from kinder to fifth grade I was a basket case. FIFTH GRADE MATH TERRIFIED ME! I flipped through the math text book thinking, what have I gotten myself in to? I reached out to a colleague and shared with her my math fears. We started meeting to discuss the lessons for the upcoming weeks. I was surprised how fifth grade math skills came back to me. Yes, society may point out your teaching flaws. It’s been rampant due to common core. All the memes and articles I see about teachers not even being able to answer common core test problems. Disrespectful. Let society try to pull an engineer whiz from Apple and throw them in a classroom or maybe neurosurgeon to teach 5th grade science. They may know the content, BUT do they have the skills TO TEACH! MANAGE A CLASS! HANDLE MULTI-TASKING! HELP A CRYING CHILD. SUPPORT A CHILD’S SOCIAL EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT….I doubt it. Being an Albert Einstein is NOT in your job description.
What do you think? Did I miss anything on this list? What do teachers NOT have to do? Tell me in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you!