Okay, I don't mean to whine so much. I know that every job has its crazy time. I just use this place to vent. Accountants have tax season; food service workers have rushes during the day. Retail workers have Christmas. Engineers have...what? I don't know. Do they have a crazy time? Is it when the computer is down? The slide rule is stuck?
(I poke fun because there's a lot of engineers in triathlon.)
My teaching year is like a long, hard race triathlon.
I start the year with a combination of trepidation and excitement. This time it will be different. This time I'll do things right. I'll push through the pain. I'll plan the greatest lessons evar.
Report card time is like that long hilly part of the race (for me, it's the bike) when I ask, why on earth do I do this? I'm all alone, at the back of the pack. This is insane. I'm not cut out for this.
Parents and students complain. You must have lost my work, because I know I turned it in. Administrators ask you to explain your Ds and Fs.
Look at all those people ahead of me. It's easy for them. It's too hard for me.
There are the frustrating, hopeless moments. Parents accuse you of picking on their kid. They want to know why you don't stay after school every afternoon. Your admin calls sudden meetings, sucking up what little planning time you have. You have another thing you have to write to justify your position. You get a flat in the middle of the race, and you watch everyone speed by while you're unrolling the tube from your flat kit.
I. Hate. This.
So you talk to other triathletes, or teachers, and find out it's hard for them, too. Your kids might mouth off, but her kids pushed and threatened her. Even those who make it look easy have their difficulties. You pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. Use body glide.
Get the kids to do some of the work.
In between, there are those moments when you crest the hill and get a breathtaking view that you wouldn't have gotten any other way but in that particular race. That kid that comes back to see you that you'd just about given up on. A former student, now grown, that you run into somewhere who says, "Remember when you showed me those statistics about education and income? I never forgot that. I'm going to college this fall." Or, maybe it's that parent (or even student) who says, I appreciate you.
Sometimes you have make your own moments. For instance, when I have a really dark, angry, hopeless moment, I like to pick one or two kids, not straight A students, but earnest, hard-working kids who are nice and work really hard for their Bs and Cs and call tell their parents what great kids they've got. No, he's not in trouble. I just wanted you to know what a hard worker he is, and I sure wish I had a classroom full of kids like him. (If you're a teacher, try this some time. The astonishment and grattitude you get from parents will make you day, maybe even your month.)
Then comes May. The finish line is in sight. There! Whew. Just in Time. Hey, that went by fast...
Of course, summer, is my off season. I lay around and taunt my friends at work who aren't teachers. The difficulties of the race start to fade and soften. I attend a few workshops and think about how I'll do things differently next time.
Then in August, toe the line again. Yes, I hopefully tell myself. This time will be different. I'll push through the pain. I'll plan the greatest lessons evar...
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