One of the reasons I consider it so important for teachers to try and finish the school year in a “strong” fashion is simply out of self-preservation. The fact is, teaching is tough. And the year is long and hard. And we are not always at our best.
Plus, when you add in a dose of the dire news we are all inevitably going to be reading/hearing about for the upcoming 2010/2011 school year (for example, I just heard rumors we might go as high as 43 to 1 on the student teacher ratio due to budget cuts on my campus), you can get demoralized.
And feel disempowered.
But in a way, this sentiment is an illusion. Sure, there are many things we cannot control in our teaching universe… but there are many things we can as well.
Choose to focus on the things that are within your realm of being able to control. It’s one recipe for staving off the wolves of educational despair.
When you strap it up and work your butt off bell to bell all the way to end of the year, you feel a certain personal dignity that can’t be stolen away from you. And when you work in a chaotic, frenzied, dysfunctional world where up is down and buffonishness trumps common sense, feeling as if you are making a positive contribution matters, despite the events going on all around you.
It actually matters a lot. In fact, it might be all the difference in the world.
Now of course, we owe it to the kids to give them our all, but in reality, a lot of teachers feel dumped on by their districts these days and as a result, they often passive-aggressively take out their own frustrations with their superiors on those that are most easily within lashing-out distance.
i.e. the kids.
My district pink-slipped me? Well, screw them… I ain’t teaching crap for the rest of this year. What are they going to do, fire me?
-Uhm, aren’t you forgetting the needs of the students?
-Aren’t you forgetting your own sense of professionalism?
-Aren’t you forgetting that you are still being paid for a job and just because you can shirk you duties doesn’t mean that you should shirk your duties.
As this year winds down, a lot of “stuff” is going to bubble up. My feeling is that the best defense to preserve your sanity, your dignity and your own personal sense of self can begins with a strong finish to the end of the school year. Refuse to be one of those teachers that just phone it in because at the end of the day, heck, at the end of your life, you’ll be able to look back and at least know that when it came time hey, at least you did what you could.
Trust me, there’s more juice in the fruit of students to be squeezed and wasting it, well… the knowledge that you’ve done so can wear on your soul.
(FYI, I am going to host a free webinar on Finishing Strong next week (on May 19th from 6:30 – 7:30 EST. If interested, you can sign up here.)