Dear Tired Teacher,

Teaching can be an honorable, exciting, even life-changing profession. But it can also be difficult, tiring, and disheartening. It is the beginning of the year and you are already tired. It is scary isn’t it? This tired feeling so early in the school year. If this is what January feels like, how will we ever make it to August? How will we ever survive until April? There is just so much to do. So many new programs to learn, new formats to master, new lessons and lesson plans to prepare and students’ performance to keep track of. It isn’t that you don’t want to do all of these things, it is just that there are all of the things. All of the things all of the time, and every year it seems as though there is a new system in place. It will get easier, they say. Once you get used to it.
In the midst of all of this you have names, personalities, and needs to learn whether written down officially or just recently discovered. It is all you can do to keep it all straight. You remember what it was like to be sure that you could save kids one desk at a time, one lesson at a time. You remember, vaguely why you took this job. You remember the teachers who made school great for you. You still hope to be that for some of your students. You still hope you can make a difference; you just wonder if there is time to make that difference when you are so busy making lesson plans, and making sure your instruction is data driven.
You wonder if doing all the right things is really what it takes to do right by your kids. You’re tired, and you feel a little bad about that. You don’t want your students to have a teacher who is tired. You want them to have the best.
I know it is hard right now. But please remember, what you do matters. Desperately, you matter. I don’t want that to be one more thing that exhausts you. One more reason you do too much. Just showing up matters. You are doing a good thing.
Statistics have shown that Education is the quickest way out of poverty. It is still the best way to get a leg up in this world. 75% of prisoners don’t have a secondary school education. The more success a kid can have from kindergarten all the way through secondary school, the more likely they are to have a good future and avoid jail. I need you to remember that, you keep kids out of jail. Wanting to be there, showing up marker in hand and a little low on sleep is making a huge difference in the world. You matter. I matter.
I know our classes are maxed out in a way they have never been before. I know the curriculum gets pulled out from under us just when we are able to stand on it without wobbling. I know that the paperwork is enough to drown in. I know. But I also know we matter. What we do is important. It gives our kids a better future. I just want to make sure you know you make a difference.

About Ezar

I'm in love with my dreams, married to success and having an affair with life ;) I live for the moments you can't put into words and I dont look back...unless there's a good view.

Posted on January 3, 2015, in Chalkboard and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I don’t know how teachers do what they do. Truly. You ALL have my admiration and thanks.


  2. I wake up most mornings eager to go to work to see what the day will bring, and really do enjoy teaching 8th graders. I am, however, REALLY looking forward to the next vacation in a few months!


  3. I salute all who not only stay, but stay and do their job well amidst all the chaos called teaching. Thank you this posr, Ezar. Happy Resumption!


  4. I’m no longer tired. You know why? I quit. Just tired of teachers being blamed for everything when we have no real control.


  5. I am a young, energetic person with a first-class degree from a top university. I have been graded an ‘outstanding’ teacher by colleagues; I like working hard. Really. My grievance has little to do with pay and pensions – for most young teachers, remaining in the profession until pensionable age is a ludicrous prospect, due to unsustainable workload. The only way to do a good job is to work breathless 12-plus-hour days every day, which I cannot keep up. I am not content, however, to work less and do a bad job for the children. I am angry that I am effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love.


    • @Josh I think we can conclude you’re rightly being forced out of a career you’re not suited for and probably only went in to in the beginning because the pay seemed good.
      Teaching is a very rewarding and satisfying job. It comes with its own share of stress and burnouts, I agree, but like Ezar said, when u realize YOU MATTER, then u r capable of returning to the classroom everyday.


  6. The reason we often become tired stressed out about teaching is because it is important to us. We really want to do a good job and make a difference. There are many pressures and I have times when it is very difficult but overall I try to remember the great moments. Everytime I have a good moment I write it in my journal. I used to write when I was stressed and not when I was happy. I decided to go the other way, so that when I am stressed I can have something to read to remind me why I love my job.


  7. I agree that many aspects of teaching are stressful today. This is my first year teaching and I go home every night extremely stressed over the day’s events. It is not my students, it is the other teachers on my team. I feel like I am in high school again. When we are in meetings there are whispers and note passing, in the halls there are eye-rolls to each other about another teacher. There is all this gossip behind certain people’s back and I am sick of it. I try to stay out of it but it is very hard for me, I am a special education teacher and I work with 5 teachers on my team and about 100 students. In theory I should only be working with the students with IEP’s and 504 plans, but I do not, I work with all the struggling students too; which also makes it stressful. Three of the teachers that I work with do not acknowledge the fact that there are struggling students in their classrooms and therefore do not modify their work at all, which leaves me to do it. I completely understand where everyone is coming from, I have been rethinking teaching as my career these past few months, just because of the adults that I work with, and that is very sad.


    • I get the feeling. The thing I find most stressful (other than the fact that I am a very new teacher and don’t know what I’m doing yet) is that we are so often called on to be parents as well as teachers. Is it really my job to find a way for every child in my room to eat a proper breakfast, get enough sleep (I have one child for whom this meant mean pulling up a pillow on monday mornings, because he just doesn’t seem to sleep on weekends, and being little, he fell asleep wherever he was), are emotionally supported, and have appropriate after- school care? I can bandage boo-boos. I can solve “emergencies”. I can be mindful in my teaching and marking scores to bolster self-esteem. I can teach group-work and social interaction skills and encourage good playground interaction. But I have had some kids where they don’t eat before school, they don’t always dress for the weather, they don’t get enough sleep at home, they only have junk food in their lunches. they never see another kid outside school hours, spend their free time in front of the TV, watching inappropriate shows (I had a grade 2 once tell me their favourite show was CSI) or playing inappropriate games (another kid told me he loved Halo and Resident Evil).
      Now, I have my share of amazing parents, and I’ve seen teachers who have gone out and bought school supplies (backpacks, shoes, etc.) for kids whose family didn’t or couldn’t supply them, which I have yet to have to do, so I know I’m not really that badly off. But the fact that any of this happens anywhere at all?!!! I am not the mother of 43 children, thank you VERY MUCH! I am their teacher. there is a difference, and I can’t be both. THAT is what stresses me out. But i will keep Ezar’s encouragement in mind – I matter.


  8. Happy new year , Ezar. Good work. Good post. For the tired teachers I think the first thing they have to do is clarify what they value as teachers and decide how these values can inform their teaching practice so that they are not stressed and frustrated.


  9. It concerns me that so many teachers now talk of stress, depression, and the need to get out of the profession for their health. It is not light-hearted when teachers talk of being unhappy then add in “… thank goodness for the kids.” Sometimes the children are all that are keeping a teacher going.


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