Help for the Weary

When you walk into a classroom today you expect to see students engaged in the learning process. You hope to see a teacher so excited about his/her content, that the energy flows directly to the learners. Sadly, when you walk into most public classrooms today, what you see will make you weary. Try as she may to create a classroom of engaged learners, the teacher of today often feels so overworked and overburdened, that little energy is left to give to the students. And sadly, this environment leaves both teacher and students feeling disengaged and yes, weary.

Admittedly, the learners of today are far different from the learners of say, just ten years ago. Technology has dramatically changed the education landscape, and the way that teachers need to approach this profession. Some would argue that technology is the root of the problem in today’s classrooms. Some would say that tech/social media is the very reason that teachers must work harder to keep students engaged. But blaming technology for all of the woes associated with education would be erroneous. In fact, technology has helped teachers to engage and connect students in ways that textbooks and old teaching methods do not. Technology has changed the very manner in which an educator disseminates knowledge. No longer should teachers lecture while students sit idly as passive learners. Technology allows the teacher to be more of a coach. A mentor who guides students as they connect, engage, problem solve, and think critically about the world around them. Through the use of technology, students can develop 21st century skills which will serve them well for the global world that they will soon enter. Technology is not the root of the evils that lurk in public schools today.

Why then do most public school teachers feel overworked? Why are teachers working harder than the students who sit in their charge? Why are so many educators working in places where creativity and engagement are not the norm? Why are so many teachers feeling so weary?

Here are the 6 top reasons why:

  1.  Emphasis on standardized testing
  2.  Little or no teacher planning time
  3.  Little or no resources that align with standards/ Common Core
  4.  Lack of leaders/coaches/guidance – teachers are expected to “do it all”
  5.  Interruptions
  6.  Regulated expectations to teach more curriculum (get it all covered) with less mastery of skills

There needs to be a paradigm shift, and soon. A shift toward helping all teachers do what they do best, and that is, to teach. Educators spend more time on the following tasks than they do actually teaching:

  1. prepping students for high stakes tests (which is not teaching)
  2. planning lessons that align with standards
  3. finding resources that align with said standards
  4. teaching themselves new skills because districts have neither funds or resources
  5. fitting in more content over the course of a year despite mastery of skills
  6. taking courses required by policymakers (who never step foot in a classroom)

These are the reasons that many teachers today are feeling so overworked and weary. Teachers are being required to do the work of many, resulting in adequate teaching at best. It’s not for lack of trying. Educators give everything they have for the sake of their students. It really is time that teachers are recognized for the extreme efforts they make to do their job- if only they could just do their job. The tragic consequences for schools across America are at stake should things continue to spiral as they have. Skilled, dedicated, creative teachers will leave this profession. Not because they no longer love teaching, but rather because they are no longer allowed to do what they love.

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Hanging On

When you’re young and starting out you struggle to reach the truth about who you are, and your life’s ambition. With perseverance and perhaps a little luck, most do achieve success. You obtain your goal, the job you believe will make you happy. But life can be funny. Sometimes, just when you think you should be settled on the path you have set out for yourself, you find yourself at the top of that proverbial roller coaster. Hanging on for dear life.

Anxiously. Waiting. For. What. Happens. Next.

For what happens next? What happens when you reach a point in your life when the career you opted for back in your youth, is no longer enough to sustain you? What happens when you want to follow a different path? What happens when you are a person DRIVEN by passion, yet obstacles in your chosen career leave you feeling passionless?

You do a lot of soul searching. A LOT. You read. You pray. A LOT. You get connected. You redo your resume. A LOT. You network. You cry. You lose sleep. A LOT. You hang on for dear life.

But you cannot wait for what happens next. Waiting keeps you in an anxious place. Instead you must own it. You must embrace the ups, the downs, the twists, and the turns that you are about to face. You must be the thrill seeker of your own life’s journey. This is much easier said than done. Especially when you are a person who likes having his/her feet planted firmly on the ground. A person who does not like change, or the unknown. Hence the reason for the aforementioned soul searching, reading, praying, and crying.

Today I find myself sitting at the top of that roller coaster. Yes, I’m hanging on for dear life. But I’m ready to face all the twists and turns that life is throwing my way. How do I know? Because staying rooted in a passionless place feels so much worse.