I have a confession to make: at this very moment, I am having a love/hate relationship with teaching, and unfortunately, the "hate" part seems to be winning. For the past 6 weeks or so, I have found myself absolutely questioning why I am still a teacher in the classroom. I feel like teaching has turned into a laborious and toilsome effort for me. I feel like I have been faithfully applying CI in my classroom, but I also feel like I am "teaching the walls" on many days, as students do not seem to respond as they did before - has the novelty of me and of a CI classroom worn off for them? Am I now just viewed as a tremendous joke in the eyes of my students? Even though I know for a fact that students have acquired a great deal of Latin after just 14 weeks, am I moving too slowly? Have they acquired too little? Am I actually doing them a disservice? Am I an effective teacher at all? As a result of all of this, now that I have completed my Ed.S degree and am certified in Instructional Technology, the thought of leaving the Latin classroom to become a school technology coordinator or an instructional coach has become a more tangible, tempting possible pursuit.
In light of all of this though, here is what I know to be true: I always feel EXACTLY this very way about teaching at EXACTLY this time of the year EVERY year. And EVERY year, I get through it.
In other words, when I take a step back from it all, what I am feeling is absolutely normal and part of the teaching experience. It is part of being human. That is actually very encouraging, i.e., it is not I per se who is the problem - it is just par for the course of teaching. As a teacher, I absolutely hate this time of the year. As school begins the second week of August here in Georgia, we have been in session for four months. I am utterly burned out with school, and students are burned out too. Believe me, how I wish my district had a fall break!
Recently, I was clearing out my email inbox, and I came across an email exchange with Bob Patrick from 2015 (both of us were at different schools at the time) where I was lamenting about departmental issues at my school, how unhappy I was with the situation, and how I was wanting to leave. When I looked at the email date, it was exactly at the same time of the year as now. Part of me had to laugh at the email, because in retrospect, it seemed like such an over-reaction on my part, as the situation eventually corrected itself, but as I read over the emails, the feelings behind them are still very real.
For any teacher out there who is feeling the same as I am right now, I do not write this to minimize or to invalidate what you are experiencing. Based on my own personal experiences, I know these experiences and feelings all to be incredibly real. I completely understanding how overwhelming all of this can feel. I wish that I had some pat answer or some magic pill for getting through this. All I know is that somehow for the past almost 20 years of teaching, I have made it through this time of the year. Quite honestly, it has been one day at at a time and on many days, it has been one period at a time. Regardless of how battered, bruised, and broken I feel and although I may end up crawling across the finish line in December, I have always made it through. Winter Break recharges me, as both teachers and students receive a much needed break from each other, and suddenly, I am ready to teach again in January. To be truthful, that gives me a lot of hope and actually is a comfort.
In addition, my community of fellow teachers (both local and online) brings me a lot of comfort, encouragement, and fellowship. Attending/presenting at summer conferences like IFLT and NTPRS always renews me afresh to the point that I am chomping at the bit to return to the classroom and that my annual October blues seem like a distant memory.
Maybe one day I will indeed leave the classroom to pursue being an instructional coach or a school technology coordinator. If that happens, I also know that those positions have their own set of problems different from a classroom teacher; I would be a fool to think differently. But for now, I will faithfully keep doing what I am doing in the classroom, although my heart may not be fully in it on certain days. I have to believe that even though my students may be dull and unresponsive, they are still receiving and acquiring understandable messages from me in the target language.