Almost two years ago, I wrote this post, Dear Tired Teacher, but I wrote it from the administrator point of view.
Almost two years later, my roles have flipped and I’m on the other side. I AM the Tired Teacher. I am the one who feels everything that I saw as a principal, and included in that post. I am the one who can experience in the same day, often the SAME HOUR the agony of defeat and the joy of success.
I am the one who will only take a microsecond to celebrate that something got crossed off my To-Do list because there are 17 other things on it.
I am the one who will fight back tears at work, and sometimes lose, because I just don’t know how I can keep doing it all.
I am the one who sees the stack of papers to grade, the data binder that needs to be updated, and the desks that need to be rearranged, but I am the one that walks out of my classroom to go home anyway, because I’ve already spent nine hours at work and I have the most important loved ones at home who need me and I need them.
I am the one who lies awake at night trying to figure out how to help my most hurting, neediest, uncooperative students. The explosive ones. The quiet ones. The ones who try their hardest and still fail. The ones who are done in 10 minutes and want to know what else to do. The ones who have parents that don’t have a voicemail set up and there are no other numbers to contact them. The ones who yell at you that they hate school and they hate you and you know there is something deeper inside causing their pain.
I am the one who stopped dead in my tracks when my colleague shared a story with me. She said that someone had given her the Dove Chocolate wrapper that had some advice written inside. The wrapper said, “I may be able to do anything. But I can’t do everything.”
I can’t do everything. I CANNOT. So I’m going to choose what my anythings are. My anythings are going to be the tasks that help my students succeed. My anythings are going to be the policies I put in place that help my kids feel safe, and successful, and confident, while also respecting me. My anythings are going to be the things that also allow me to turn off school for a while to be present for myself, for my family, for my friends, and I’m going to repeat it in the same sentence, FOR MYSELF.
We have got to stop asking ourselves to be EVERY THING for EVERY BODY. It’s not physically possible. It’s not mentally possible. It’s not emotionally possible. And at the end of the day, it’s exhausting to lay in bed and think about all the things you didn’t do.
So I’m going to end this with the invitation to please read the Dear Tired Teacher post and know, my dear tired teacher friends, everywhere, I still see you. I see myself. And I want you to give yourself permission to not be everything. I know there is an intense amount of pressure with testing, and evaluations, and public scrutiny.
Instead I want to emphasize that the teachers I have worked with, and the teachers I work with now, choose the right things. Thank you colleagues, past and present. Thank you. Now please do yourself a favor. Go to a mirror and tell yourself that you see yourself. You are choosing the right things. You can do ANYTHING but you don’t have to be EVERYTHING.