Our Students Are Worth It
This morning, as I checked Twitter before rolling out of bed to get to my boys’ early morning hockey, I came across this post by AJ Juliani “What It’s Like to Teach and Lead in 2017 (Hint: It’s Exhausting)”. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and this morning, I was meant to read this post (and share it with my colleagues who I know are feeling the same way!!!). Here, AJ not only reaffirmed the intense emotions and pure exhaustion that I’ve been feeling lately, but also reminded me of the important why that this job carries.
École Sage Creek School (ÉSCS) is a brand new school that just opened up this September. I am a grade 1/2 teacher there and feel unbelievably fortunate to work with such an amazing group of educators. We welcomed our students and their families into the school after Labour Day by having opening day conferences, and then started school on the Thursday, but many, many staff members have worked through the whole month of August in order to ensure that everything was as perfect as possible before the true beauty and chaos of classes started. We’ve also been working long hours to finish setting up as more things arrive and to plan amazing learning experiences for our students. That was expected! What kind of caught me off guard was all of the “little” things that no one could’ve predicted would come up while opening up a new school. These minor details have a domino effect and definitely add up, creating even more stress and chaos than a typical beginning of the school year would have. Put all this together and add the most amazing and hard working educators that you will ever meet, and we’re definitely feeling exhausted at best.
Here’s our reality: while opening up this new school gave the administrators a lot of flexibility when it came to hiring amazing educators, seeing as we are all hard working type A personality kind of people, we’re extremely hard on ourselves. We want things to be perfect and we don’t settle for good enough. We want our students to get the best of us day in and day out. We want to do more than the status quo, we want to challenge it, all in the name of creating better learning experiences for our students. I know that in talking to many colleagues since the beginning of the school year, many of us have gone home and just cried. This pressure is all internal though, as we are surrounded by exceptional administrators who always have our backs. The truth is, as Coldplay says so perfectly: “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard”. But, no matter how hard, it is soooooo worth it!
Last year, as I was in the thick of things experimenting and learning like crazy in order grow and to prove that I deserved a spot on this amazing team of educators at ÉSCS, I had super interesting conversations with my doctor and therapist (yep – you bet, I take care of myself, this whole thing called life is hard, but that’s another post). Our conversations often circled around the thought of what would happen to me if I didn’t get this “job of my dreams”. Truth me told, I was in an amazing school before switching over, so I knew things were going to be fine either way, but what I had to explain to my doctor and therapist was that me slowing down and going back to “easy” wasn’t an option. Let me explain… Once you know better, you do better, right? Well, although it’s not as black and white as that, I think that if I generalize this statement, I believe it to be true. With having learned so much in the last couple of years, there is no way that I could ever go back to doing things that I used to believe were good enough. AJ explains my thoughts exactly on the matter in his post mentioned above:
It is really easy to teach from the textbook.
It is even easier to hand out a multiple choice test. Grade it with a scantron or online grading tool. Record the grades.
Move onto the next chapter in the textbook and repeat.
But, it’s 2017 and most teachers I see working around my school, this country, and the world…aren’t teaching like that anymore.
Last week, I had several parents ask me how things were going. I was always very honest with them in that things were going well, but that I was tired because of all of those extra unexpected things (on top of the usual beginning of the year stuff). One dad commented that he often goes for runs late at night and has spotted me in my class working several times late into the night. Another mom e-mailed me to tell me that her son was absolutely loving school, which I was so thankful to hear given that I FEEL as though I haven’t been doing enough and as well as I wish I was.
So, to all my colleagues and to all educators out there, know that if you are exhausted, it’s likely because you care SO MUCH that you are not just taking the easy, well traveled road. Know that what you are doing, although YOU might believe could still be better, IS good enough. You are enough. As you continue to learn and grow, you will likely look back on some things and wonder what you were thinking, but right now, what you are doing, is exactly what you should be doing. And as I write these words, I understand that it’s easy for me to give out this advice, but it’s harder for me to take it in and believe it myself.
When we are feeling exhausted and don’t have much left to give, let’s remember our why: our students. Our exhaustion then becomes so much more bearable. Our students are worth it. 🙂