I am drowning. I am overwhelmed. I am the most ineffective educator on the planet right now. Those words and those thoughts have plagued me for the past four months. This school year has been so rough and so difficult for many different reasons, but nonetheless, it has been the most emotionally and physically draining thing I have ever experienced. I love teaching, and I love teaching middle school kids how to sing, and this is all I have ever wanted to do. However, there were moments that I just wanted to walk away and never look back.
What have I found out? I’m not the only educator feeling this right now. Hello, we are in a battle for our very profession. We are calling Senators left and right begging them to do the right thing and vote no for a Secretary of Education that has never even taught or attended a public school. We have to defend ourselves and our profession daily. No wonder we are tired. No wonder we have nothing left to give. We pour our heart and souls into the lives of our students and then we have to turn around and defend what we do. It is heartbreaking.
Not to mention that these days we seem to demand more and more from our students, not because we want too, but because we have to for the sake of progress. All the while we forget that they are just kids. Case in point, no eight-year old should ever be stressed about a test ever.
The past two weeks have been the worst in my teaching career. I have worked crazy long hours, and then I come home and cry over it. I cry because I’m killing my own of love music, and if I’m killing my love of music what am I doing to my students? How terrible does that make me? I have allowed my emotional needs and hurt negatively impact my students. I want to build a positive culture, and I have done nothing of the sorts.
Then my college professor posted this on Facebook. Dr. Lilite is one of the most important educators in my life. Who I am today is a direct reflection of the time and energy that he put into making me a great singer and a great educator. These were the words that my heart and my soul were so needing to hear.
Go to your past-I have wanted to be a middle school choir teacher since I was a middle school choir student. I was never the worst student ever, but school was a struggle. The choir was my outlet, my safe place, and where I felt the most successful. As I grew older, I realized I that I was called to do the same for kids that my middle school choir teacher did for me. My past helps my present.
Go to your future-The future of public education is up in the air. I am scared for my students, my colleagues, and my profession that I love. However, this will not stop me from making my voice heard. This won’t stop me from continually doing the right thing and seeking others to do the same.
Go to your present- To my students: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you haven’t had the best of me. I’m sorry that I have stretched myself so thin that I have done the same to you. I want you to love music; I want to see how beautiful and life-changing it can be. I don’t want you ever to be stressed about it. I’m sorry that I have done this to you. To my colleagues: I’m sorry that I allowed my burn out to effect our mission to effect our goal. I will seek beauty, I will seek goodness, and I will seek happiness. I will allow only joy. I maybe crazy busy, but I will allow my busy life to be a source of joy for others. But I won’t let my health and sanity go by the wayside.
I believe that there is hope in public education and my teaching because that is all I have left to hold onto.