This school year has felt so much different from the past two years. There seems to be some underlying stress that is always present. Looking around every day, I see teachers who are exhausted. Everyone is holding onto their coffee cups for dear life in the morning, and they often get more coffee at lunch as well. As pressure comes from all directions, administration, teachers, and students are all starting to feel it.
It seems like every year the students come in lower than the year before, and the bar for their performance is set higher and higher. All of the students in my school are expected to be “meeting” or “exceeding” on the standardized assessments. I am proud to say that we have done really well the past couple of years, and our school is no longer on probation. So now, we are working even harder to ensure that our students continue to do a great job. I feel like it is an endless job to accommodate and modify the curriculum in such a way that my students can show their growth and do well on the standardized assessments.
I tend to be an overachiever: if an opportunity comes across that I know will be beneficial for my students or great for me as an educator I will usually take advantage of it. This means that I am taking on extra responsibilities outside of my already packed duties as a special education teacher. I have written in a previous blog that I have been struggling with trying to find a balance between all of my responsibilities at work. Now I’ve been writing grants, submitting proposals to give presentations, and keeping up with my blogging duties. But lately I've been asking myself when is enough going to be enough?
I arrive at work around 7:15 in the morning. It used to be that I was one of the few teachers there, but now there are 10 or so teachers who arrive at that time, and many more keep coming in early. After school there are always teachers staying trying to get ahead and be prepared for the students the next day. Lately I've noticed that this is starting to affect the health of the teachers. These past two weeks everyone has been walking around like zombies. People are sick, and many teachers are so under the weather they are not able to come into work. Last week I ended up in the emergency room for eight hours! It was my body’s way of saying I needed to slow down. This week I struggled with trying to teach without a voice, and by the end of the day I could barely whisper.
Have I slowed down? Well…sort of. I'm still getting to work early and staying late, but I'm working hard on not letting things bother me. If something happens at a meeting, now instead of majorly stressing out, I shrug it off and finish it as best I can. I am learning to let things go that are beyond my control, and to just make efficient decisions that will benefit my students. My New Year’s Resolution is to find the time to relax because I know that I can’t keep up this pace for much longer.