Breathe

Nine weeks of school are complete. They have taken everything out of me.

About a month into school, as we sat on the couch and I graded papers and half-listened to whatever else was going on, my husband asked me, “When do I get my wife back?”

I sighed and scowled, and said, “May.”

I would have thought that, this being the fourth year at my school, I’d have things worked out. I’d have systems in place to help me manage my time. But this year has been rough. I’m teaching a new course. We have a new Learning Management System (LMS) that we’re all supposed to be using, even though we had access to it only a day before school began. And I’m supposed to create my Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), which are based on test scores and which impact my evaluation by 15 percent – but we don’t have last year’s standardized test results back. In fact, we won’t have them back until probably February or March, by which time students will have taken this year’s test. (How on earth my evaluation is supposed to help me be a better teacher when it cannot even be completed without these test scores which won’t come in until the next school year is 75 percent over, I have no idea.) So, I’m supposed to create goals for my students to pass the state test, even though I have no idea how many of them passed the test last year.

Anyway, it’s been rough.

Just before the two-month mark, I started to be able to breathe again. I had a weekend when I didn’t bring any work home with me.

Then, parent-teacher conferences hit. I spoke with 41 sets of parents. Thirty-nine of those were very positive, but it was a long day. The next day a last-minute meeting encroached upon my prep time, and I felt behind all over again. I woke up the following morning with my muscles so knotted that I felt like throwing up.

Now it’s fall break. Two days off (Monday and Tuesday), and I’m trying to breathe again. I have two classes of essays to grade, plus two classes of posters. I might get to the essays before school resumes, but I left the posters at school.

I taught for six years before leaving teaching, unsure that it was where I wanted to be. I worked about the same number of years at what I now call my “terrible job,” because although it started out great, it became pointless drudgery.

This week, I wondered why I re-entered education.

I know that, overall, I like teaching. I even think I like teaching more than most other alternatives I can think of. But this year is making me wonder.

It’s not the kids. It’s not 99 percent of the parents. For the most part, it’s not the administration. It’s the system. And I don’t know that I can take this system for 27 more years until retirement.

But for now, I will try to breathe.

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One thought on “Breathe

  1. Struggles with teaching, or rather the system, so well expressed.
    They make my challenges seem minor.
    Grateful for the “breathers” God provides, and the strength and wisdom for each day.

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