This is possibly my most honest and painful post so far. I’ve started and stopped this post quite a few times. I keep coming back to it in the morning on my dog walks, and then literally run away from it (eagerly distracted by music and podcasts!). Amazing what other things you can do when you’re avoiding.
I have a difficult class this year. I hesitate to say that because I don’t want to come across as negative. And I think that’s part of the problem. It has taken me a long time to actually openly admit that this year. I’ve kept it quiet and subdued. I’ve tried not to complain. I’ve tried not to be negative. And this has had consequences for me.
Teaching is often very isolating experience. Me personally, when I struggle, I tend to keep to myself. I tend to internalize and keep it all inside.
My class isn’t a battle. I have had years where it is a huge struggle: power issues and open defiance. That’s not really what’s happening this year. No, it is a much different climate this year. I don’t dread the climate or daily struggles. But I approach my class with the quiet resignation that is steeped in failure: I’m just not able to meet everyone’s needs.
There is something I’m working to uncover here. I’ve noticed other teachers that teach my class feel the same way. There are a lot of tricky kids in my room. Quite a few who just won’t do anything despite our best motivating techniques. But for myself especially I tend to personalize this. They are not doing anything because I am not teaching well enough.
I don’t know where this comes from. But I hear it again and again. Good teachers constantly struggle work to find solutions to the problems. If they have not solved the problem then it is their fault.
I do think there’s something to be said about responsibility on the student. But I hesitate to head down that road because I don’t want to default to blame. They are just kids after all. But I’m experiencing effects of this internalization – this finding blame on myself. It is very stressful for me. And I handle my stress by keeping things inside.
I know I should exercise and socialize more. But after a hard day I tend to watch TV and eat, for my internalization manifests in my weight gain this year. There have been years where I have battled tough classes. And tried to control things that I can. Everything is just more challenging this year. There is a quiet resignation to my approach this year.
I will launch myself at the challenge every day. I will fight the good fight. I will keep plugging away. I will not give up. But I also know that some problems are too big to solve. I am not a mental health specialist. My skill set is best served in teaching. There’s some problems that are too big, so this is where my quiet resignation comes from. I try but I still get stressed. I work away at it. But I’m also counting down the days until it’s over. I still carry a tremendous amount of guilt. Is there more I can do? Sometimes I feel there is. And I try again. There are other times where I believe I can’t.
So the point of this post? It really is about exploring my feelings about this. My reflection from the conversation I had yesterday. I was given two opposite sentences that make a lot of sense to me:
- I’m doing the best that I can.
- I can do better.
What more can be done? I don’t know. But I’ll keep at it.