My emotions are getting the best of me. One minute I am elated to see my students and the next minute I am weeping because I feel so overwhelmed that I feel like a new teacher. I get angry because it is our students that lose when poor working conditions exist for educators. I am exhausted both physically and mentally. Yet I will wake up at 5am tomorrow and start another day of crazy. Why? Because I love my students and the opportunities to learn and grow together.

Next week will be my sixth week back to school but only my fourth week with students. My students have been great and I have even had several former students come back to visit, say hello, and tell me how life was at middle or high school.  But I am exhausted.  My schedule is far from ideal and it is making me feel like I am in the middle of a very bad dream.

Unfortunately, I am not the only one… my colleagues are just as exhausted, concerned, and frustrated with the new schedule and expectations in my county. Instead of decreasing our workload and providing more planning with the changes our county made to improve working conditions, we are feeling squeezed more than ever. The hope that we had for the new year has quickly faded… we face another year of struggles.

Or do we?  Do we have to give up so much of ourselves and our time? Must we feel there is no hope in a very demanding year?

After much reflection and a conversation with a good friend and colleague, I am left considering… “Are we investing too much into the system and allowing ourselves to be distracted from the real meaning of teaching?” Or even worse… are we being taken advantage of because like most students, we do what we are told because: 1) We want to do or best! 2) We are hard workers, dedicated to learning 3) We are responsible!

It is easy to lose hope when you feel like no one understands. It is easy to lose hope when you feel you are not heard.  However, when you speak up. When you advocate for yourself AND your students, you begin to feel hopeful again. You start to feel connected and understood and slowly you change a system that seems impossible to change!

It may be easier said than done, but here are some ideas for taking charge and finding a better balance between your school and home life..  First breathe and take time for yourself.  Chase butterflies, sleep in, go for a run, spend time with family and friends,, whatever it takes for you to feel like you- do it and don’t feel guilty about it!

Next, reflect and try to pinpoint what is really standing in your way from having a successful year.  Once you have identified the barrier, consider how you can change, modify, or work around the barrier.  What would your ideal classroom, school, or even school system look like. Consider what needs to take place to make that a reality.

Advocate. Advocate. Advocate.  Yes… the third thing is to stand up, speak up, and share your story with your colleagues, your admin, your school board member, your board of supervisor and even your state and national legislators.  As soon as you start to tell your story from the trenches it makes the issues humanized. It is hard for people to turn away when an educator is candid about the real struggles and concerns for our students.

We know that an educator’s working conditions are a student’s learning environment.  You and I… we have the power to change our profession. We have the power to change the learning environment for students.  We can let go of some things that don’t matter to student learning and make space for time to advocate for ourselves and students.  When we advocate and lead, there is no room for hopelessness.  Students remember how we made them feel. They remember our passion for learning and the example we set for leading.  We must stand up and make our voices heard so that we empower ourselves and each other in order for positive change to happen. Change isn’t a bad thing, unless you have had no voice in it.  Are you ready to lead the change?

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4 thoughts on “No Time for Hopelessness

  1. Precious, thanks for sharing the rollercoaster that is teaching. It is with great responsibility that we educators take our role, and that leads to both feelings of fulfillment and anxiety (among other things). We love our jobs and want to do everything we can to reach all of our students, and often the structures are not yet in place to allow for the best learning and teaching. Going back to what and how we need to teach our students also depends on where we are today and what our students need for tomorrow. With all of the best intentions, we can often feel overwhelmed from wanting to do more and needing to advocate for the needs of our students and our classrooms. Some places are ahead of others in what the structures should look and act. You’re so right in encouraging us to advocate for those changes in our own structures even when the battle seems exhausting or futile at times. You’re a rockstar, Precious!

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    1. Dalia, It is ironic that you referred to teaching as a roller coaster as my original title referenced holding on for the roller coaster of a ride. 🙂 You make a great point about our desire to want to do more and go above and beyond for our students. I honestly know very FEW teachers that don’t try to enrich the lives of their students by whatever it takes to reach them… even if it means sacrificing time with family. However, not only do we need to find balance between our professional and personal lives, we need to find time to advocate for ourselves and our students. Thanks for your thoughtful response and sharing your experience in the classroom.

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  2. So well said, Precious!

    You touched on so many things here! It feels like teachers come in refreshed, rejuvenated, and full of hep and excitement for each new year. As the year starts and the weight of all that is asked of us and added into our plates it begins to feel overwhelming.

    I feel like teachers will suck it up most of the time because we do care so much about our kids and our work. We want to do a great job and we want to give the kids the best educational experience every day! It feels like we are asked to do more, but are given less time or support from the county level. We will do it anyway though.

    It’s easy to complain and focus on all that is difficult- but Comiserating does not create effective solutions. We should support each other with understanding, work together wherever we can, and as you said, ADVOCATE!

    Great blog!!!! I’m excited to follow you through all you do and inspired by your passion, dedication, and positivity!

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    1. The weight is heavy this year! However, as I talk with other colleagues like you, who have so much positive energy and great ideas for approaches to challenges, I am inspired to advocate even more! We can’t just accept the mundane, we must advocate for what is right! Thanks for the thoughtful response and I look forward to standing strong beside you this year and helping you advocate for change too!

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