It’s November, late November really, and that means things are tough. It means teachers have gotten through the anticipation phase of the year, right there at the beginning, all the excitement and high energy from both us and the kids. The endless possibilities, the new faces and names, the potential.
Then it was survival, just trying to check things off the list each day. Did all that critical paperwork get turned in to the office? Did I follow up with that student about a missing library book? Did I contact that parent to say how awesome their kid was in math today? Did I send my teammates that poem we talked about?
By November we’re in a groove. It may not be a comfortable one or smooth one or even one we like, but we’re rolling along. So this means we’ve likely hit the disillusionment phase. We’re tired. The days are getting shorter and shorter. The holidays are coming and our to do lists are absurd. We’re checking those boxes every day, every week, but we aren’t feeling good about it.
I am certain of this because I’m living it. Not for the first time, but somehow it always feels like the first time. I am surprised every year when I hit this point. When I am so deep in this trench, this ditch, that I can’t see a way forward.
Conversations with my teammates last week helped. Not because they had ways to get me out of this spot, but because they’re there with me. They are feeling the way I am feeling. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Not doing or being for our students what we want to do and be. I am not alone. How powerful that is. And how do I manage to forget that every year as well?
Then I spoke with a teacher in another school and learned she was right there with us. Not only am I not alone but it’s not just my school. This lovely teacher has no idea how much she lifted me by sharing her struggles. It sounds absurd, but not being alone is such a relief.
I’m still overwhelmed. I’m still exhausted. I’m still not the teacher I want to be. But I’m feeling a bit like I do every year in late December, when I know the days are far too short but they’ll be longer soon. I know I’m in this trench, this ditch, and it feels impossible to get out, it feels like we’ll be stuck for the rest of the year. But I have some confidence now that we won’t be. We’ve been here before and got out. We’ve been here before and made it to better places as the year went on. We’ve been here before.
If you’re here with me, with us, hello. If you’re a hugger, as I am, here’s a virtual hug. I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t be overwhelmed and exhausted and feeling a bit like a failure, I’m feeling it too. I’ll just remind you that it won’t last. You won’t feel this way forever. Please keep reminding me too.