Alice Quote

How do I know I’m mad, indeed? Well, I keep coming back for more. I am tired, I am somewhat exhausted, and I smell smoke; a sign of potential burn-out. Too many voices in the forms of e-mails, tweets, blogs, push-back, cattiness and manic, agenda-fueled piracy. Leave me alone. I’m fading out and leaving only an enigmatic smile behind.


But lately I’ve been thinking that true satisfaction, smug, self-reliant satisfaction, is possibly the best option for sanity. Or survival.


The other day I just got so teary. Voices I respect are telling me I don’t have the right to be tired, or telling me I am not being professional if I’m feeling exhausted. I realize it’s ‘only October,’ but I need to find my reset button. I haven’t been teaching that long, to be sure. I am not a veteran or old war horse. This is only my fifth year; I counted up the number of students I’ve had, and it’s close to 800 collective souls. They came in waves of years, each class thinking they are the only ones who have tried a trick on me, or been disrespectful with their special, unique brand of sass, or proudly waved their illiteracy banner, or alliterate masthead, of “I hate to read! Ha! Now try to reach me! I’m falling through the cracks, and you can’t reach me…neener neener neener!”


Everyone is working their fannies off right now. And at the risk of sounding like an entitled, whiney, unprofessional teacher, there are many colleagues who would testify on my behalf that I have done and given more than my fair share. I have spent hours creating meaningful, relevant, and engaging curriculum–nights, weekends, planning time, mornings, vacations — you name it. I have neglected balance and health in my own life to ensure I am “prepared.”

It is with some sense of satisfaction that I can dutifully and happily report that all the hard work is paying off, that I am reaping the educational harvest I have sown. Lots of creative lessons, on-line, technologically integrated lessons, rubrics and checklists galore, along with the big questions and the targeted assessments.


So why the frown, clown?


The half-lit thought of change has crossed my mind. I don’t really want to teach anywhere else, though. What I do want is for you, my friends and colleagues, to tell me how you keep things fresh, avoid burn-out, and still maintain strong, foundational instructional practices for all students? I remind myself that even though that even though this may be my 786th student, this is Student #786’s first time in 8th grade.

We are all balancing families, friends, health, happiness, and hope. Maybe seeking satisfaction isn’t the answer. But a little more peace and creativity sure would help.


Waiting for Superman? Nah. Lois Lane already had a life before he showed up.


4 thoughts on “Satisfied.

  1. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being tired. Nothing wrong with being worn-out, either. Nothing wrong with taking a day off or not finishing a project or turning something in late.

    My comment on Doyle’s blog came across wrong. The reality is that this is a hard profession. What I am bothered by is teachers who feel entitled to always feeling normal, never feeling tired, etc. I’m bothered by teachers who think this is the only job where you get this worn out.

    But the exhaustion, confusion and anger – I get that. You probably sense it on my blog lately. I’m tired. Really tired.


  2. I totally empathize with you, and I confess I was certainly not the poster child for keeping it fresh during my years in the classroom (which I desperately miss). Doyle’s post slapped me across the face, too, and while I agree that we should never think in terms of “the kids will survive,” we must also remember to take care of ourselves, too. I recommend sabbath rest. At least one day in seven needs to be school-free. Go for a walk, ride a bike, read a book you have no intention of teaching, listen to a little Stax, tend to plants, fellowship with friends, take a nap, go to a house of worship, call distant friends or family members, etc. Just stay away from school and work. Avoid blogs, RSS readers, and Twitter feeds related to work.

    Then, occasionally, find someone who isn’t an educator and tell them how wonderful teaching really is. Tell them all the good you know. Sharing my love of teaching and learning with someone who doesn’t understand it always fortifies it in my soul and rekindles my fire.

    You are not alone. Rest well and I highly recommend a little Otis Redding as a sabbath soundtrack. :0)


    1. Philip – I think the idea of Sabbath rest is a concept we all need to revisit – there is a deep, deep reason why we humans need to give ourselves a ‘time out.’ After this, I am going to stay off the ‘net for awhile today – I can’t even post comments correctly! 🙂

      John – I know. I just think the use of the word ‘exhausted’ is hyperbolic for most people. I am exhausted, though. This Friday, I dropped off older son and burst into tears at a friends’ house. She gently rubbed my back and let me cry. She has a son with diabetes and is battling rheumatoid arthritis. And I’m the one who’s crying? But no more invitations to the Pity Party (even though I bought a new dress). I’m going to start a ‘happy moment wall’ where good, fun moments that happen during the day go up on sticky notes. Maybe that will help me stay bolstered.


  3. Let me offer a few suggestions to help with the burnout feeling. Form a support group (family and friends), try meditating from time to time to help with relaxing, keep a journal, and reward yourself with a program of personal growth experience. I knew that I needed a paradigm shift in my life. A tremendous help to me was joining the Stephen Covey community organization. I was able to communicate with like minded people.


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