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Monday, April 30, 2012

Not "winding down"



Here are a dozen roses a student
sent me for something I did for him last
May. If you check out, you'll miss out
on things that need to be done.
Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I made this comment while we were driving to church. When I got out of church, it had more than 60 likes! It resonated, so I decided to address this thought of "winding down."
Tonight I will be in my classroom grading. One of the toughest things about this time of year is just how much time everything takes. Usually I work 50 hours a week but this past week it is more like 65 or 70. Most people don't know or understand these hours. In the business world, if you worked long hours people knew because your car was there or they got emails. In teaching it isn't as evident. I think those who understand and respect teachers during this time of year are our friends and it is appreciated. On the flip side, those that call with frivolous requests because "things are winding down" can be quite upsetting. It is hard to comprehend it unless you live it or live with someone who does it. Teachers, you rock, keep going, encourage each other. We can thrive and survive!

School is not winding down! 

I think it is this misstatement "things are winding down" that gets me the most. When I go in to school after having been up until 2 am and have someone say, "now that things are winding down, it would be a great thing for you and your students to..." I feel angry. Yes, I do.

Linda Clinton in her comment on the post above says it well:
"Linda Clinton I laugh when people think the end of the year is "winding down." In many ways, it is much more stressful and frenetic than the beginning of the year because there is a hard deadline for darn near everything. In the beginning of the year, there may be some flexibility for at least some things."
In some ways it is accelerating and then it suddenly crashes to a halt. I find myself rereading my own old posts about how to stay encouraged and motivated this time of year. (How to keep positive during May or Finding Your Beautiful Moment the last week of school).

Tips for Staying Motivated in May

Here are some reminders for you that might help you:

  • Be careful about trusting your emotions this time of year. You're tired. You probably aren't taking great care of yourself. Everyone else is excited about summer but you can't be... yet. You have too much to do. Just give yourself some slack about how you're feeling, it may not be an accurate depiction of your life at this moment.
  • Take it one day at a time. (See Laugh and love but don't lament: teach well until the last day)
  • Do small things to help lift everyone's mood (see "Take the #youmatter teacher's lounge challenge")
  • Talk to people face to face or on the phone if you need "to vent" and be careful about social media when you're over tired, especially when it involves job-related opinions. (I find that when I'm over tired, I say things I regret sometimes or that don't reflect as clearly what I think.The last thing you want is a social media controversy about your career that could hurt your career. You don't need that.)
  • Be careful about confrontations. When everyone is tired, that is a very poor time to deal with controversy (unless you absolutely have to.)
  • Give yourself and your students things to look forward to. (Plan events, activities, and rewards.)
  • Give yourself and your students things to look back upon. (create memory books, take pictures - tons of ideas on Pinterest for this sort of thing.)
I wish I could wave my magic wand and magically help you get your work done, but I can't. I've got more work than I can do and to say I'm upset about it is like expressing mild concern over a tornado about to hit my house. 

My gut tells me that my workload isn't doable but my brain tells me that this is my 10th time doing this and I can and will make it through May.

Universal truths about teachers

Here's the thing about teaching that I've learned. No matter the teacher I talk to, whether she's in Qatar,India, China, Australia, or the US of A, teachers are overworked, underpaid, and have an incredible amount of pressure. We're misunderstood, maligned, and spoken ill of by many. Most everyone has had a teacher - both good and bad - and thus, now are education experts and have the self-appointed expertise to speak out about good teaching, meanwhile, most make the mistake that the way they learned is how all students learn.

That being said, I am speaking to you right now, my friend. It is 6:52 and I've got to get dressed and run to a teacher's meeting while feeling nauseous knowing that my grades aren't all entered from my binge grading from this weekend. I didn't have it in me. Meanwhile email piles up and work accumulates in every area of my life as the laundry pile grows. ;-)

Teaching is an incredible, important profession. What we do is vital to the future of this planet. We must respect, appreciate, and defend one another (when preposterous things are said.) 

Speak ill of a lawyer (even if he's wrong) and they will descend upon you  for attacking their profession. Speak ill of a teacher (even when she's right) and you hear crickets chirping because the cacophony of voices that should speak out for teachers stay silent. 

This is a tough time for teachers, that is certainly true. But amidst great trial lies great opportunity. 

These students need you - they are starved for greatness. You can have an incredible impact. Be the kind of teacher who makes a difference.

Photo credit:
Thank You Roses - my photo
Teacher - Bigstock
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