My pet peeve of the moment

Teaching is hard. I’ve already mentioned this. But lately all I’ve been hearing is how I’m going to break down my first year (because every one does), how I’m going to want to quit my job (ESPECIALLY if I work in an urban setting), how I’m going to be incredibly stressed out (since things come up during the day that messes with my “teacher time”), and how I’m going to think I’m going crazy because I can’t do this and I can’t do that…the list continues.

Will I? Really?

I’m not saying I do not value the experiences and opinions of those sharing their stories with me. After all, they have way more experience that I do at this point. Yet, it frustrates me; their comments are my pet peeve of the moment.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always had to balance in-school and extracurricular activities. Maybe it’s because my parents always insisted I take care of my school work first. Maybe it’s because I played softball at a D1 school and only found myself on campus 3 days a week in season. Maybe it’s because I double degreed as an undergrad and am now working on two masters, too. Maybe it’s because I am almost OCD when it comes to organization. Maybe I’m just naive and have no idea what’s in store for me. Maybe …

I think the fact that teaching IS a challenge is part of the reason I’m attracted to the profession (besides just wanting to help people learn and learn more about literacy myself). I mean I’ve done a lot of editing/writing/public relations work in the past. In fact, though I was only the assistant for the communications office, I practically was the director. And yet, the director was “stressed” for reasons unknown to me, even though I was the one doing the work, monitoring the interns, and being a student, too. This didn’t just happen with one PR job; it happened a few times. And each time, I’m looking around me going, yeah, there are CRAZY deadlines and turnaround schedules, but seriously, why so stressed? My point to this story is that the work was sort of “easy” to me; I found that I was bored more then I was engaged. Thus, I like the idea of entering into a classroom where I’m brining something new into the room and each of my students are bringing something new into the room, which essentially creates the challenge of creating a successful learning environment. (Maybe I just like to be challenged.)

I look at my CT sometimes and ask myself why is she so stressed? “Well, planning this…” and “I’ve got to get this information here…” I can’t help but wonder why. Lessons do not always go the way we want them to. Students don’t always act the way we want them to. Administrators make faculty meetings run over. Teachers make ignorant comments. Parents are unreasonable. You want a life, too. The list continues. Still aren’t there challenges with any type of job you choose? (Think: An accounting statement off by decimals. A missed touchdown pass. A down electrical wire. Not enough influenza shots. A crashed computer.) I mean, isn’t this why we are told to love what we do for all the little things that can wear you down?

Now, I know some people are immediately going to come back and talk about testing and standards and the like. We all have them. They aren’t going anywhere. So why not accept that, step out of the box, and think about how we can best engage and challenge our students (and ourselves!) to meet curriculum testing demands?

Maybe I’m hard headed. Maybe I’m just weird. Maybe I’m missing the picture here (but am I really?). Maybe I just really want to teach.

Whatever the reason, in the end, I really believe I’m going to be OK. And I think everyone in my cohort will be OK, too. Things are going to be hard. Yes. There will be some days I may not want to teach anymore. Yes. But I’m going to be OK. And if things don’t go as “planned,” maybe it just means I take a step back, take a deep breath, and re-think why things didn’t go OK. (Think: action research)

I don’t mind being called the overly optimistic, naive, “crazy” new teacher. I want to try things others with experience have done and try new things that maybe no one has done. And I think the key to all of this is the desire I have to continue to LEARN myself. Learn from other teachers, my own experiences, my students, etc.

When people doubt me, it motivates me. Greatly.

Maybe I will cry every day of my first year teaching.

(I really just want to teach.)


7 thoughts on “My pet peeve of the moment

  1. I certainly do not have the answers to your questions, but I can make a few comments πŸ™‚ First of all, you are obviously a very grounded person, who doesn’t stress easily because you are prepared and open to new things. Thinking of yourself as an active researcher changes the perception of failures to learning experiences and opportunities to grow. In stressing this point throughout your blogs and reflections, you already are taking a positive stance. Does that make sense?

    Obviously in regards to the always being busy, that is part of the reason I chose teaching. I hate sitting at a desk and completing work I don’t find challenging or meaningful. As teachers, each day we have an opportunity to make a difference, and once again, maybe that is the optimistic coming out–looking at the glass as half full as opposed to half empty. Yes, I think there will be days that I will cry and be very stressed (that is just me…that is what I do). I always feel overwhelmed at first, and then I am completely fine…happens every year, ask my mom πŸ™‚ Everyone is different and reacts differently to stressful situations. Yes, I think that teaching will at time be very stressful and emotional, especially if you really care about your kids. Everyone, however, reacts differently. You have plenty of experience with multi-tasking, juggling jobs, sports, and schools, and being a learner, teacher, and active researcher. Do you see how many commas I had to use?! That is a lot of stuff πŸ™‚ I think you will be fine. I think you may be a little ahead of the game. A lot of people could not handle that load, and that is ok, but the fact that you can says a lot about how you will handle teaching and all the small stuff that can drive teachers crazy. I mean we all sweat the small stuff at least sometimes. They wouldn’t have the book “Don’t sweat the small stuff” if we didn’t πŸ™‚

  2. Lauren, thank you for your comments/thoughts! Thank you for your confidence, too. (And by the way, I think you will be an EXCELLENT teacher yourself!)

    There are definitely times when I am super stressed (and yes, I cry at times, too, haha!). But these hard times pass and I look back and think, “Wow. I did it!” I didn’t even mean to get so carried away with my “pet peeve” yet for some reason, it seems lately all I’m hearing is how everyone shuts down and HATES their first year in the classroom. I’m not saying I won’t and I’m not saying I won’t shut down, but if I don’t think at least a little bit positively that I can make a difference, then wouldn’t I be crazy to even go into teaching in the first place? (HA!)

    I’m excited to see where I end up next year and excited at the chance to be challenged (and not stuck behind a desk doing work that isn’t meaningful, like you said). And I’m glad you agree that we have to have a little “hope!” πŸ™‚

  3. I’ve been trying so hard to stay back from commenting within your blog posts, but I wanted to speak to you here not as Dr. Kajder but as a colleague, a teacher who taught in an urban, high-need environment for the first years of career, and as a teacher who still looks at each day as an opportunity to teach. Yes, there are days that rise up on all of us – but, to me, a big part of it is learning to “channel” or foster your own internal voice which helps keep you focused, helps in quieting the voices telling you just how bad those first days/years might be, and amplifying the voice of the students who need to know how genuinely you want to be there each day. (And, you need to keep in mind that the days you cry might just be with the tears that come when you see students surprise themselves with what they achieve…) Perhaps I’m an odd one, but I loved my first years of teaching – there weren’t always great days – but there was an energy to the work that kept me moving and waking up each day, ahead of the alarm, because I was jazzed about where I thought one of the kids might move that day… Tune out the voices that are trying to forecast a time that will be completely individual to what you make of it. You are the one who ultimately shapes that path (and the voice you really need to hear).

  4. –“You are the one who ultimately shapes that path (and the voice you really need to hear).”–

    Thank you for this thought! I needed this…this thought is one I truly believe myself, but it reassures me hearing it come from someone else. And it’s great to hear that someone else believes it’s possible to love the first years of teaching!:-)

  5. *wave* Got here from the English Companion Ning. I have thought about the same sorts of points you make quite a bit; in fact, they’re the driving force behind my blogging.

    I think that maybe the reason that so many teachers reach their breaking point as we begin teaching is that we do it to ourselves in order to find out just where that point is. We push ourselves to that point so that we know what we’re capable of – what our limits are, and what the consequences are when we push past them.

    That’s something that just wandered into my head at… uh… 3:20 AM, though, so take that FWIW. I think it may be headed blogward, but Imonna ponder it awhile first.

    After some sleep. πŸ˜‰

  6. Good thought here! Thanks so much for sharing. I think I am still figuring out what I’m “capable” of and meeting resistance with those who are not so passionate about some of the newer literacies that makes me excited to teach (if that makes sense at all!). I’ve really learned to just channel that negativity into a positive, appreciate their experiences and opinions, and keep jumping in to test my limits!

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