27 November 2006

Deep Cleansing Breath

Image Credit: Unknown

If you look at the title of the graph, you'll notice that it refers to first-year teachers...but if you spend a moment thinking about the graph, you teachers out there will realize that it doesn't just reflect newbies. How many of us vets start off with enthusiasm at the start of another year---full of piss and vinegar? Do we not enter a "survival" phase as we get into a groove before the doldrums of winter set in? It feels like such a long time until June...especially with a few (or more) impossible students and tasks. Spring brings a rebirth of hope, and enthusiasm about summer.

I shared this graph along with an article about first-year teachers with the mentors in the program this year. They all laughed (as did the noobs when they saw it), recognizing the rhythms of the job. I asked the mentors to share some of their experiences navigating this curve and strategies for making it through the "disillusionment." I implored them to tell the beginning teachers that it's normal to feel this way about the job.

As I trawl the edusphere, I see that many bloggers are feeling negative at the moment---and guilty about not having something positive to say...and for being whiny. But I hope that they realize it's all right. We're all surfing the wave. It's better to blog about an annoying student, recalcitrant parent, or aggravating admin and then set it aside for a bit than lose a night of sleep. Invite all of us to the pity party. We'll help celebrate in style and then pick you up to keep moving on. No one wants to be down on things all of the time. Give yourself a chance to vent once in awhile, take a breath, and then go forward. There will be things to celebrate soon.


Anonymous said...

I used to teach at an inner city school where most, and I mean MOST kids didn't go to school to learn. The only thing I liked about it was that there wasn't much grading of homework, because very little came in.

But during the summers, I'd forget about how frustrated I was during the year. And when I was offered jobs in other districts (yes, math teachers are really hard to come by...some sent letters to our inner city school encouraging us to apply!), or jobs in other schools within our district, I would always say "no", because I knew I must have been doing my students a world of good!

By the second week of school I would just be frustrated again - spending all my energy during the class period trying to maintain my enthusiasm, stifle my anger at the level of apathy, and wonder why I didn't leave.

Finally, one summer a friend of mine did get me to apply to another school. They knew of my work, and hired me right away, and I've been much happier since, although I've always felt a bit guilty.

I still have some of the problems that the other school was filled with, but most of my kids come to school with the expectation that they will behave and learn a bit during the day, and that makes my job much more enjoyable.

The Science Goddess said...

When people ask me if I like my job, my typical reply is "Most days." I think that's about the best one could hope for in any job---but the goal is to find something that makes you smile more than it breaks your heart.