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Here We Go With This Teacher Blog Thing! May 3, 2024

When I sat down to begin this teacher blog, my first thought was, "Why would anyone want to read this?" Well if you are here, you decided to give it a go, so I better write something amazing! No pressure! Ha! Honestly, I don't think I have anything truly profound to say really. Do I have ideas and thoughts that connect and resonate with educators new and old? Probably! Although I would like to offer some life changing advice or professional insight, I am really just like the parents and teachers who will end up here; probably in the middle of the night when they can't sleep, have a child keeping them up, frantically searching for a lesson plan for the next day.

About Me

So, here's a little about me. I have been a teacher for as long as I've been a mom, 24 wonderful years. For almost all of that time, I was a single parent raising my son alone, trying to work on my bachelor's degree while pregnant and my master's with a 4 year old. My first piece of teaching advice would be to NOT follow in my footsteps in that area! That was a terribly grueling time. Most of what I remember during my master's program was staying up until 4 in the morning, trying to finish a paper after working and going to class all day, and caring for my son at night. Single parenting and graduate level statistics do not mix. As I mentioned before, I'm sure some of you are up at 4 am right now and can totally relate.

Oh, How Time Flies By!

It is difficult to believe it has been almost 24 years. My son is grown now and is an awesome, functional adult. (I get to brag here. It's my blog.) He is a great man, and is still the best blessing of my life. Even though that time feels like it went by in a flash, it also somehow seems seems like a lifetime ago. As I get older, it becomes more difficult to reconcile those conflicting feelings of time, and I find myself making statements like "That feels like yesterday," and "it was a million years ago" in the same conversation.

This week, I was talking to one of our subs at school who just graduated and was assigned her very first teaching position. She was so excited! It was so funny to observe since I can completely relate to her enthusiasm, but also feel so many other emotions like exhaustion when I start thinking about next year. As I listened to her talk about all the things she wanted to do in her new classroom, I started feeling quite reflective.

Transitioning the Old Guard

I'm not sure when I became one of those "veteran" teachers. The ones that have a million lesson plans ready in their back pocket. The one who is less and less concerned with her grey hair and more about making sure kids still learn cursive writing. As a Gen X'er, we learned without tech, but were the first to utilize it at school first as students and then as new professionals. I have reinvented the wheel with new computers, document cameras, print and digital curriculum and fully embraced the evolution from ditto copies and overhead projectors to live streaming and remote instruction. Wow! No wonder I'm tired! Every time I thought I finally had a handle on what I needed to teach and the ten thousand expectations of the "new" program or initiative, it changed. And boy how it has changed!

As I sit here and write, I am filled with so many emotions as a veteran teacher. Happy memories and cute student faces spring to mind. The accomplishments, victories, and joys of teaching are all still there. But sadly, alongside those warm fuzzies are also deep frustrations, anger, and a sense of defeat as I see classrooms changing and teachers leaving the profession. I get it. There are many days I feel like I have devoted my life to something no one cares about anymore. The public attitude toward teachers has changed, and honestly the pride I had in my career has faltered. I used to feel so proud to tell people I was an educator. Over the years, though, my self worth was often lowered, as I was deemed nothing but a babysitter, or somehow less hard-working because of my lower salary. It was very difficult to fight those voices in my head. It is also difficult to remain confident when the job you love has changed so drastically. The expectations placed on teachers have changed and are now almost impossible to live up to when combined with a dramatically different social climate and host of new generational characteristics like social media, teen suicide, school shootings, and a degrading value in academics.

A Zebra Can't Change Its Stripes

Now before I digress onto that deep reflective dirt road, (I'll put a pin in that for a another day,) I will bring my thoughts back to that sweet, enthusiastic young woman getting her first contract. Despite all my conflicting emotions from years of service, the root of it all is really still the same. I love being a teacher, not because it is my job, but because it is part of my identity. My feelings about it will ebb and flow, but at my core, it is a part of me. It is not something I can quit or detach from. I know some do, and that is completely understandable. For me though, it is just part of the woman I am, and I don't know what I would do without it.

For better or worse, my heart belongs to the process; the sharing of information and knowledge, the quest for bettering yourself though thought, discussion, and engagement with others, and the bond that grows when sharing the world with a wide-eyed, thirsty-to-learn, new student. Despite its challenges, I am going in next week and am going to give it my all for the last month of school. And when the fall rolls around, I plan to match the giddiness of that first year teacher, because my students deserve it and because I deserve it too.

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