Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 07 2013

How does Dalton get his groove back?


There are only three weeks left of school but in my head it might as well be October. I haven’t dealt with this burned-out, nauseous-during-the-drive-to-school, counting-down-the-days state of mind since I was fresh out of Institute, coaching two sports, and lesson planning day by day. I’ve switched from trying to thrive and achieve exemplary results for my kids to simply trying to survive each day and make it to the next.

Quite frankly, it’s starting to break me down.

I’m getting frustrated with students, tired of seeing the same four walls every day, and unmotivated to put in the work needed to be an effective teacher.

Of course, the kids see that and they react negatively to it. They can tell when I’m not at my best and they respond to it by going wild. This, of course, frustrates me, makes me tired, and keeps me unmotivated to put in the work needed to be an effective teacher.

Cue the vicious cycle.

While three weeks might not seem like a lot of time, I’ve seen firsthand how slowly the hours can pass when you’re not satisfied with your job. I don’t want to dread 50 hours of the week for the rest of May and I don’t want to walk out of RMS for the last time of the year and feel merely glad to have survived it. I want more for myself and for my kids.

I simply don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get that mojo back and make this final stretch of teaching a worthwhile experience.

One Response

  1. Ben

    Try talking with colleagues at your school, either new teachers who can relate to what you’re going through or older teachers who can provide advice and encouragement from an experienced perspective. Talk to friends and family to get things off your mind. It’s easier said than done, but spend time with your interests outside of school, whether it be sports, reading, music, or whatever it might be. I remember during my toughest stretches, I would listen to lots of music, especially songs that inspired me to go through one more day. I couldn’t see to the end of the week, but if I could get through the next day, then there was one less day before I got to the end.

    Hang in there. The first year is tough the whole way through. If you’ve never heard of it, check out Roxanna Elden’s book See Me After Class. There’s a great part in there where she describes the end of the school year and how, perhaps as a result of seeing one too many “teacher movies,” we’ve come to expect ourselves to be on top as the heroes, the ones who’ve changed all of our students’ lives and the ones they’ll all be hugging and thanking on the last day of school. But in reality, it’s the complete antithesis–and we should accept it as such. The point is not for us to feel like the glorious heroes at the end of the year (although we all want to feel that way, and it’s an extra bonus if we are recognized to that extent), but rather to keep on learning and growing as educators. And generally it’s through the rough patches that we accomplish this.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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