Teachers: heart to heart. What do you honestly worry about with teaching?
Teaching is a profession like no other one. The requirements, the close working with young people… it’s different than others.
As the school year continues, teachers may feel isolated and alone. These feelings can lead to teacher burnout and dissatisfaction.
Here are my five ‘confessions’ about teaching.
- Teachers get nervous about presentations. Not day to day teaching (maybe sometimes!), but the big presentations—the life changing ones that have the potential to veer into the ditch. For instance, when I set the background for Night, I feel I have a higher responsibility than simply teaching literature. I want students to take the content seriously, to see the connections to present day. Setting the tone and teaching the background of World War II is one time I get nervous. When I teach A Raisin in the Sun, I want to bring attention to the horrid treatment black Americans endured. Those messages matter; those message are why I love literature. Can I accurately and purposefully convey those ideas to my students?
- Teachers worry they will blunder. I don’t mind not knowing an answer. I feel the environment in education is moving to teachers learning alongside students, which is wonderful. Still, keeping twenty teenagers calm while you research a question or analyze a grammatical question can be tough. Plus! Some students don’t think ‘I don’t know, I’ll look’ is an acceptable answer from a teacher. Snags during your lesson can dampen your day.
- Teachers have more ideas than they can ever finish. This does not make you a failure! This took me a long time to understand. Years ago I kept a folder, full of scraps of paper and half-baked ideas. Now I have a bin, full of half baked ideas. Will I ever finish a complete, tidy presentation for all of these lessons? Doubtful. I’m thinking about education though, reflecting, tweaking, improving. I sort through that bin sometimes when I realize that a previous thought will connect with a current lesson. My unfinished ideas are proof that I’m not using the same lessons, year after year.
- Teachers don’t want exhaustion to show. I know I have bags under my eyes, and that I lack a spring in my step. It’s not August, and I’m tired. Still, I want to be an awake, inspiring leader at the front of the classroom. (It’s why I make lame jokes—yep, I’m blaming those jokes on this.)
- Nothing makes teachers happier than hearing from former students. Email, Facebook, or an in-person visit makes my day. (It might make my month.) To know that you connected with a student, that the student remembers you, and wants to communicate? It’s why most teachers teach.
Teachers, heart to heart: we might feel like we never measure up and that we are not making a difference. I don’t have a solution for that feeling, but I wanted to share with you that you’re not alone in your feelings. Teaching can be a beautiful profession, but still, it can bring worries and emotional carnage.