Dear Tired Teacher,
I want you to know I see you. I mean I really, REALLY SEE YOU.
I see the look in your eyes in the morning when you greet me in the hallway. Your voice and tone are pleasant but your eyes? Oh, your eyes reveal how tired you are.
I see you in IEP meetings and RtI meetings and Behavior Plan meetings and meetings that parents request. I hear your professionalism and your desire to do what is needed. I admire how you take a deep breath when another task is added to your unending, overflowing, insurmountable pile of things that has to be done. And I see you. I see a flash that goes between disbelief and panic. I know that it means, How will I ever be able to do this TOO?
I see you in the classroom. I see you with students who are coming to you with such a range of skills that you must orchestrate lessons that address the needs of all. Students who can barely read all the way to students who finished the entire series of Harry Potter over the weekend. Students who can multiply and divide and “fractionize” the first time you teach it and students who require weeks of reteaching and practicing. I hear your sincere encouragement and recognition to all your learners. I see your joy when the lightbulb goes on. Please know, I see your defeat when it doesn’t. I know what it means. You’re trying everything you know. Dear Tired Teacher, I know you are. I see it.
I see you with “those kids” Tired Teachers. I see you when I come to help with the student who is running laps around the class, or tipping chairs, or stringing curse words with poetic ease. I see when you take him for a walk to cool off. I hear your calming tone as you try to diffuse the situation. I see the look when you’ve tried everything you know and the student is still on the floor shouting insults. I know what it means. I know you hurt for him. I know you wish you could’ve said the right thing or done the magic trick that snapped that student out of it. I have a feeling, Tired Teachers that this is The One Thing. This is The One Thing. If you could wish away One Thing it would be you would wish away the pain behind the behavior.
I see you with parents Tired Teachers. I hear how you are professional and honest. I admire how you can celebrate success and express concern all in the confines of ten minute conferences. I see how it hurts when an angry email arrives in your inbox. I see how the walls go up after a while because it feels like you’re under attack. I see how the pain depletes the joy that you have for your calling. I see this Tired Teacher and I’m sorry that I can’t block you from that attack more.
Please know Tired Teachers, I also see something else. I see your resilience. I see how you resist to allow a bad day become a bad week. I see how you are flexible even if you’re unsure. I see how brave you are to come to your place of work when it’s hard and exhausting and sometimes thankless. I see when your light shines a little bit brighter. I know what that means. You’ve figured a kid out. You found the way through the fractions or the inferencing or the behaviors and it’s finally working. When I see this, Tired Teacher, it lifts me up too.
I SEE YOU TIRED TEACHERS.
This is the Thursday night of the last full week before Thanksgiving. You’re in the home stretch. I pray for the small break that you’ll get next week. I pray that it provides the respite your Tired Teacher soul needs. I hope you leave your teacher bag at school and resist the urge to bring “just one thing” home to grade. I need you to enjoy your time with family and friends. I beg you to refuel your soul however you need to recover your joy.
I see you Tired Teachers. And I am more thankful for you than you can ever know.