We’re halfway through the school year. Halfway through the essays, assignments and tests. Halfway through the assemblies. Halfway through the fire drills. Halfway through the observations and debriefs. Halfway through the parent phone calls. Halfway through the conferences, conventions and PD (professional development) sessions. Halfway through tardies and absences, detentions, suspensions and expulsions. Halfway through unit plans and lesson plans. Halfway through rubrics and exemplars. It’s February, and we’re finally, painfully and thankfully (only) halfway through. Scanning the education media landscape, with its pedagogical superheroes and indefatigable warriors, it can be hard to admit, but I’m tired. I’m tired of arriving in my classroom no later than 6:30 a.m. I’m tired of putting on my armor of positivity and excitement in order to engage more than 100 recalcitrant, hormonal, and understandably distracted teenaged students who have far more going on in their lives than simply my English lesson. I’m tired of hearing countless stories of trauma and feeling powerless in their wake. I’m tired of having barely enough energy to engage my two little boys at home or enjoy dinner with my wife, who spends her equally stressful days as an intensive care nurse in a trauma one hospital in Camden, New Jersey. I know how important my work is. But I’m tired.
We’re Tired But We Love Teaching
We wouldn’t do this work if we didn’t love it, and to me there is no better way of honoring
#LoveTeaching Week than acknowledging how difficult the work is. Every day, teachers all across the country open their eyes to alarms that surely must have gone off too early, take a breath, and get up for another day of service for their communities. We go to school, prepare our lessons, and engage our students with honor, care, love and respect. We provide spaces of safety and comfort and dependability, spaces where our kids make the mistakes that help them learn to be successful adults. This isn’t another piece about the angelic devotion and sacrifice of teachers. This isn’t a piece about the need for higher teacher salaries. This isn’t a piece about building respect for the teaching profession. This is simply one teacher’s nod to the service and exhaustion felt by our nation's corps of educators. When the bell rings and I take my stance on the threshold of my classroom, I acknowledge my fellow educators posted up and down the hallway. We can all see it, the tiredness in our countenances, the yearning for just one minute to catch our breaths. Then the kids arrive, and one-by-one our teacher faces appear, exuding our openness and willingness to connect with our young people. We extend our individualized greetings for our students as they enter our rooms, and as we close the doors behind us, our voices carry with warm welcomes and do now instructions. There is no rest for the weary, teacher and student alike. Fellow educators, we are halfway through. We are tired. We are drained. September’s impenetrable layer of patience, caring and compassion has begun to show signs of wear. But we are here together. We will count down the days together and push one another to keep putting our best selves in front of our students. And when that merciful June day arrives, we will raise glasses together to a job well done.
Zachary Wright is an assistant professor of practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, serving Philadelphia and Camden, and a communications activist at Education Post. Prior, he was the twelfth-grade world literature and Advanced Placement literature teacher at Mastery Charter School's Shoemaker Campus, where he taught students for eight years—including the school's first eight graduating ...