It’s almost over. We’re almost there.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve done my best to keep a smile on my face and stayed calm and collected as my students work on their Exhibition projects (a huge student-led research unit). I’ve gone about my daily activities. I haven’t let on much beyond a simple “this is a stressful couple of weeks”. But really, I’ve been dying inside. For an entire week, I awoke each and every night worried about my students’ projects. I awoke in the morning at 5am and could not sleep again. I stayed up 2 hours past “bed time” because I simply lost the desire to try sleeping at an appropriate time.
Teaching is a stressful job. Anyone who knows me knows that, since I started teaching, I have devoted a ridiculous amount of time to my job. But this year, I’ve felt a different kind of stress. It’s the stress of feeling like I’ve let my kids down. The stress of not seeing my kids do what they’re capable of. Worrying that I didn’t contact parents when I should have. Didn’t intervene before that student got hurt (physically or emotionally). Feeling like I let my kids down.
I can handle devoting lots of time to work. I can deal (though sometimes barely) with the pressure of preparing activities, assessments, doing report cards, and whatever else gets thrown at us teachers. I could attend back-to-back meetings for an entire day, making phone calls in between. But I can’t handle feeling like I’ve let my kids down.
A couple years ago, I fell in love with a song (that’s the only thing I fall in love with these days) titled “Let It Go”. Letting it go became a focus in my life for a long time (and still is), and sometimes it’s really hard to do. But however hard, it can be done. I know that not every year will be a great year. As a risk-taker and an out-of-the-box thinker, I’m always trying new things and experimenting. As a fairly new teacher, I still have a lot to learn. It’s not always going to work out, and there will be consequences for that (like the way I’m feeling right now). But, in the end, it is worth it because I’m always learning, always growing. Some students may get caught on the way, but that will be the case for everyone, at some point in their lives, won’t it? I may not get the best coffee because a new barista is being trained. I may even get in a car accident because someone is learning to drive and didn’t look both ways before turning into traffic. We make mistakes – some bigger than others – but we’re always learning. That’s just life. I wouldn’t say I’ve made mistakes, but I do feel like I’m not doing as good a job as I could. And again, that’s just life. “Focus on the things you can change. Forgive the ones you can’t.” And so I forgive myself. I will continue to do my best right through to the end of the year, because I love my students and because I love my job, and because I won’t allow any amount of stress and self-doubt to get in my way. Tomorrow, this stress-inducing unit will end and I will celebrate the great things my kids have done, then look forward to the last “fresh start” of this year.
I promise to keep the next post bright and cheerful. Until then, keep on with your imperfect (and always growing) self. xoxo