Will We, Though?
A note before you read this post… I have been finding comfort lately in reading about teachers’ realities and talking with educators who are experiencing and feeling the same things as I am. This post is simply meant to validate feelings. I am not looking for pity, I am just speaking my truth in hopes that it might help even just one other person. It took me weeks to get this post together because I lacked the energy to write in the first place, and it was also extremely hard to process these emotions in order to turn them into something somewhat comprehensible. It’s far from perfect, but I am pressing publish.
Teachers are struggling.
I’ve noticed that we keep saying things like, “we will come out of this stronger.”
Maybe it’s a way of staying positive. Maybe it’s a way of reminding ourselves that nothing is forever, and that this, too, shall pass. Maybe it’s a mantra that if we repeat often enough, will come true. Maybe it’s a way of providing ourselves hope when everything seems so dark. Maybe it’s the carrot we’re searching for, or the light we are trying to see at the end of the tunnel.
We don’t know how long the tunnel is.
And I don’t know how much longer we can keep this up.
This is a loaded word.
And if I am being completely honest, I am not sure we are going to make it. Some will certainly fall. Some won’t come out of it, never mind stronger. The sheer weight that educators have been carrying since March isn’t easing up. In fact, it is doing quite the opposite. Every day, every change, every new expectation, every press conference, every new announcement, every word that is taken back, every time we’re told we’re putting students first and doing what’s best for them leaves us wondering what about us!?
…it all takes its toll.
We’ve been saying it over and over and over again. It was true back in March, and it’s even truer today.
This is not sustainable.
And if we’re not careful, it’s going to crush us.
The Manitoba Teacher’s Society (MTS) polled their members and shared that “nine in 10 Manitoba teachers were reporting high levels of stress this school year” and James Bedford, president of the MTS, said “teachers have reached a breaking point.” In an earlier survey by the Canadian Teaches’ Federation, Manitoba teachers reported that “stress, anxiety, and depression; workload; and mental and emotional exhaustion are their top three mental health concerns, as they manage the challenges of teaching amid COVID-19. Eighty-six per cent of Manitoba respondents reported being concerned about the ability to maintain their own health.”
I worry that as we continue to put on a brave face and “do what we have to do,” we are sending the message that it’s okay to expect these things of us. Teachers are givers, we have huge hearts, and we care so much about those we serve that we will go above and beyond to make sure that they are getting what they deserve… even if it breaks us.
Even if it breaks us.
And then what?
Teachers burning out and leaving the profession. Teachers trying to rebuild themselves in order to be able to serve others once again. Teachers dealing with new anxieties and traumas because their plates have been broken into a million and one pieces from being too full, for too long.
Students deserve our best… is it humanly possible for us to be giving them our best when we are stretched so thin?
I am terrified.
The weight of the stress is unbearable some days.
“We will come out of this stronger!”
Will we, though?