In a normal year, I relish the brief quiet moments in my day that allow me to really take it all in. I get a chance to evaluate my teaching and adjust as needed. I get a chance to think, “Wow! I get to do this every day!” I feel a sort of calm that allows me to appreciate the opportunity that I get to teach students in a subject that I’m super passionate about.
Nowadays, I despise the quiet. It makes me think, “What else can I do?” or “Are they even learning?” or, my personal favorite, “Are they here with me?”.
Yesterday, I hit a brick wall and I broke down. It was half way through my day. I had just finished reading through a cultural lesson about bullfighters. I asked a question using all of my strategies that my other class was able to answer. I received no response. Not a verbal response and not even a response in the chat. No one had their cameras on, and I felt entirely alone.
While I think it’s important to talk about the mental health of our students, I think it’s also important to talk about the mental health of us teachers. We feed off of the energy that our students give us. When that energy doesn’t exist, we drain ourselves trying to find it.
So, I cried. I turned my students toward an independent assignment, and I muted my mic and turned off my camera.
At the end of the hour, I dismissed them all, and there was an overwhelming amount of chats telling me good bye. But not a single voice was heard.
If you are one of those people who thinks that teachers aren’t working enough, shame on you. Ask to join a class with a student one day and you will see that we are busting our butts more than ever with little return.
Three years ago, I was trying to manage my emotions as my grandpa began chemo treatments. We knew that he had a long battle, but my thoughts were not always in my classroom. They were with my grandpa and the rest of my family. After a short hard fight, he lost that battle, and I lost my enthusiasm for being in the classroom. I looked for jobs elsewhere with no luck.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way about teaching, but I found myself right back there yesterday. I ask myself if this is worth it. Right now, I’m not so sure. I know that this isn’t how it always will be, but I know that it’s going to be a long road back to any sense of normalcy.
If you are a teacher and have had these same thoughts, please know that you are not alone. Lean on each other and don’t think that you are any less of a teacher because of how you feel right now. I have to remind myself of the same thing daily.
This week, I’m going to start a gratitude journal. I don’t know if it will help, but at this point, I’m willing to try anything and everything to get out of my feelings. I hope that you’ll join me!