All the little things have been creeping up and it almost caused me to lose my cool today. We’re two days away from Fall Break the kids are ready for some time off. They haven’t had a long weekend since Labor Day and it shows.
It’s nothing big- office referrals around the school are still way down and there hasn’t been nearly the same magnitude of gang activity or drug use that I saw last year. Instead, it’s all the little things: students coming in tardy, trying to get away with the bare minimum in class, or responding agonizingly slowly to correction.
I feel two ways about this.
First, I know that I need to step back and maintain a sense of perspective. Right around this time last year was the toughest time of the year. October is notoriously tough on teachers and I was no exception. At this point last year, I’d been teaching without a real break since early June when Institute began. It had been nearly five months and even though right now I’ve only been at it for three months, it is still a drain. If this is the lowest I feel all year, then I’m actually in a really great position. Miles ahead of where I was last year.
On the other hand…
What’s happening to me? I’ve grown complacent and things are starting to slip. I’m a good teacher, yes, but nowhere near the transformational person I committed myself to being when I accepted my position with TFA. My calls home have slowed down, I don’t put as much effort into my planning, and I’m not throwing myself into every single class session with the desperate zeal that it takes.
I’m a good teacher and I’m doing my part, but I’m not changing any lives.
Every day, I see kids who need someone. Who need to be hugged or driven home or fed. I see kids who need homes and families. And I want to provide for them, but I don’t. Every day by 6:30 I’m on my way home. I work hard, but not relentlessly. I do my part, but I not exceptionally above and beyond. I coach and teach Saturday School, but I still see these kids needing more.
And I’m not giving it to them.
I’m going through an identity shift right now as I start to look beyond TFA. I don’t know if I’ve become jaded or just more realistic. I don’t know if I’m taking care of myself better or if I’m doing a worse job helping my students succeed.
I don’t know if I’ve found the balance my life needed so desperately or if I’ve merely become complacent.