TEACHERS IT’S A FIGHT THAT WE’RE IN!
I am member of a large group of Black Educators and on this particular day I noticed one of my colleagues post expressing being defeated and wanting to quit teaching. I instantly jumped at the post because as an educator, there are countless times when I feel like throwing in the towel. But then God sends me gentle reminders as to why I’m there in the first place.
Teaching is a selfless, thankless, timeless, and priceless job; so there will never be a monetary gift large enough to account for the toil teachers go through day in and day out. There are however experiences that serve as “thank you(s)’ and “at a boy(s)” the Universe gives us. Back to the post I read. I instantly felt sorry for my colleague and wanted to offer some nuggets that would serve as support through the Woes of Teaching because our children need us. So I will share them here. Hopefully they help if just a little bit.
The first thing i would ask is this:
“What is making this year so undesirable?(if it’s a lot, start writing it out.) some times when we put things on paper we can see the things we can/cannot control. This will help us decide if it is “me” or the environment I have found myself in. Then ask what steps have I taken in trying to make these things better? Also ask what steps outside of school have I taken in helping my own feelings and emotions?”
After we put it all out there I’d offer these suggestions…
- Try your very best to leave work at work! – For teachers that is almost impossible, but what I mean is that you are going to have to try and not bring school work into the house at times and disconnect from the school as best you can. Because education is as emotionally draining as it is physically draining, it easy for us to work overtime. No one in your school will never tell you that you’re doing too much or working too hard. They will wait until you are bedridden or hospitalized because your body said stop. Which leads me to my next point…
- Use your sick days. Taking personal or sick days doesn’t make you less of an effective teacher. It actually helps maintain the ability to keep your flame lit as the year progresses.
- Create habits that help you decompress from the stress of teaching. That means not only joining a fitness gym, but an aerobics or boot camp class. These are better than just joining because it allows you to connect with people that can both motivate you keep working and keep coming back without the price tag of a personal trainer. Practicing yoga and meditation. Both allow you to connect with your inner self and make you more conscious of “YOU!” For those that are self-motivated, go for walks/runs regularly. Yoga and Runs are my go-to means of decompression. Yoga centers me when I’m restless and long runs help to calm me after a challenging day or when I’m frustrated. Running can also jump start my day when I can drag myself out of bed quick enough to get a quick 20 min run in before getting ready for work.
- Consider taking mini vacations like a road trip or stay-cation at a hotel outside of town. The change of scenery can serve as a mental detox from the monotonous day to day of doing the same ole thing.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY – Adopt the Pray of Serenity. Accept things that you cannot change and take control of those things you can. You cannot change the administrator you were given nor the students that were enrolled in your class, so lets not waste valuable time on the negative energy some may bring. Focus more on what you can control: The design of your room whether it be with positive posters, vibrant colors or calming colors, manage the scent that is released into the room and tones heard in the room whether you’re playing earthscapes, classical, gospel, or hip-hop. You’ll be surprised what ambiance can do to a room.
Another thing that gives you greater control of your space is welcoming students into your room. It allows you to discern your students demeanor, oftentimes they will warn you of either how they feel or give you excuses as to how they forgot their homework on there bed. This is very important. In case you have never looked at this way, what this exchange does is shows kids that 1. this is my space and I am allowing you to enter, and 2. its shows when students respond they accept the establishment of power in the room. For your problem kiddos, meeting them at the door allows you to express to them your expectation of them.
Our life’s mission is about sharing our knowledge to impact others not to keep it for selfish gain. So when we go through things, it is to give us endurance for the next challenge ahead or to help someone else handle a similar challenge later. Teaching allows us to share with people exponentially the roadmap to being successful and the roadblocks to avoid. As teachers of color, it is even more important that we “stick with it” because our presence holds the hope of so many students we interact with directly and indirectly. If we allow things that we cannot control to rule us, we will forever be running.
So come to the center of the ring and start fighting! A bad classroom experience will be no different than a bad experience at any other job you take. So in times of distress, go to your corner and listen to your cornerman. Even if you knocked on your butt in the fight this week, quarter, or semester, you’ll be better prepared for the next punch. Just keep fighting! It means more than you know.