Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Burn out?

Can you burn out after less than four years? I don't think it is true burn out but this year I seem to be drowning. My first year was tough, of course, but I was high on all of the newness, the kids, the classroom, etc... My second year we moved and I started at a new school. It was tough, there were people that did not welcome the new "kids", were less than helpful, but I got through it. I cried a few times, but all in all it was a really good year. Last year was wonderful. I had a sweet class, great parents, and we had some amazing new teachers come in that breathed new life into everything.

But this year... This year is tough and just when I think things are smoothing out a new curve comes in the road. My class is tough, you know that. We have a new principal who I adore but it is a huge adjustment from the awesome guy we had last two years. I think what is weighing it all down is the increase of data, paper work and the redundant records we have to keep. Every meeting we have I walk away overwhelmed because more has been asked of us and nothing has been taken to lighten the load.

We had a data meeting today and we were given more things to do, more records to keep. I left deflated. I spent eight hours at school during my fall break getting 100% organized, copies made, all work graded, lesson plans sketched out for two months, all filing done, etc... I can grade at home and during planning I could handle the little day to day things that crop up. My lunch is usually spent working with kids who are behind or need reteaching.

So I came out of the meeting defeated and not real happy. Also, I had called a parent just before the meeting to talk to her about her daughter who is behind in work. I'll call the student "precious". Mom was angry and gave me every excuse why precious could not get caught up over our 5 day fall break. She told me her daughter would not be going to Saturday school, that it was my job to get precious caught up. She said they had other things they needed to do Saturday.

Back in the classroom I had to talk to "precious". I told her we needed to get her caught up, that mom wasn't happy and I did not want to have to talk to her again and get yelled at. Yep, mom yelled at me. I hate that. I did not expect precious to cry. She said "You're not the only one she yells at!" And she sobbed in my arms. I wanted to cry. I forgot. I forgot no matter how important I think her assignment on Egypt is, she has bigger worries. She said her mom doesn't care about her or her work. I know she's right about the latter; I got that loud and clear. As she cried and we talked later about how we would get her caught up, I couldn't help but think, "Where do I find time just for you precious? I have reports to file, and three levels of lessons on seven different subjects to teach, and t-shirt orders to sort, and online surveys I am required to complete, and graded work to sort, and silly-boy is asking a thousand questions again..."

I keep thinking it will get better... And I hang on...


Cathryn said...

Well...your heart is in the right place and you will make time for that student. I teach college level course at the moment and that's a huge load. I get to hear the adult version of Precious' story. It's heartbreaking at any age.

I'm always bogged down with paperwork--especially students' work. It's just something you will find time to complete one way or the other.

My heart goes out to you and I'm sending you a Zen hug!

Hannah said...

I can help. Do you want me to?


Joan said...

Hannah ~ I would love to hear your thoughts. =)

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petals said...

There is so much I want to comment about with this post. I am a 21 year veteran teacher and I love my job, my school, my students. Have I ever felt burn out? Yes. I realized it was the administration at my school district that was causing the pressure. I resigned my position and moved on to a new district. It was the best move I ever made. I think I could teach another 21 years, no problem. Oh, one more thing...never, ever did I work on my lunch break! You shouldn't either!

If you burn out, too many students won't experience your devotion. Taking your lunch is the first step to maintaining your sanity. As far as the "data" meetings, try to push it aside. We can't change all the variables that affect our students. If you are giving it your best, that is all anyone can expect. NCLB isn't going anywhere anytime soon! Ask your administrators to make suggestions on how your instruction could improve. Try what they say and then do what you think works best. Hang in there!

Joan said...

Petals ~ thank you so much for your advice. Words if wisdom from veterans is what I need. Our veterans at may school are all feeling so drained.

I'm going to take my lunch back starting tomorrow. You're right, I need time for me.

Kelly's Ideas said...

What a heart breaking story - it's so sad to me when parents do not take the time to help their children and feel they have the right to yell at the ones that do..
Hang in there.

Love to you.

srb128 said...

Keep this thought in mind - what happens if you turn in your paperwork an hour or a day late? Do your students suffer? Is anyone hurt? A while ago I realized that these "data" deadlines should not rule my world! While I pride myself on being an excellent teacher, I did not sign up to be a statistical data analyist! And, sometimes, the craziest thing happens - "OOPS! I wrote down that this paperwork was due tomorrow, I am so sorry!" (as long as you sincerely feel bad for turning in some 'data' late, I think its okay. Yes, sometimes I have been 'talked to'(aka yelled at) and I'm sure I am no longer perfect in the eyes of the powers that be (but was I really anyways?); but I saved myself a lot of stress. I was a better teacher to my students, and the world didn't end! I think we all entered this profession with hopes to make a difference, save a kid, educate children... If turning in paperwork a little late once in a while helps me reach this goal, then that's what I'll do!

a corgi said...

(((Joan))) so sorry; I always think teachers have such a tough job and admire you guys greatly

I have no words of wisdom not being in the teaching field, I think a couple 'veterans' gave you great advice; definitely taking a lunch break is critical for your mental health.

I want to take Precious home with me and shoot the mom. I feel for Precious; wonder if she will graduate high school or if she will be kicked out of the house for some reason prior to it

sending you a cyber hug


Joan said...

Kelly ~ thank you so much.

Betty ~ I too want to take precious home with me and make it all better. I did get good advice and I am going in today focusing on my kids. That paperwork, the redundant lists and annotations and forms, is just going to be set aside. It will get done, just not this week.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am crying right now because I dealt with the high school equivalent of "precious" many times. I had students dealing with drug addictions, pregnancies, rape, abusive boyfriends/parents, etc. I even had to give the eulogy for a former student who was raped/murdered at age 19. The emotional side of teaching is rough and I experienced burn out after 15 years. Despite all of that, I loved it, but I also knew I needed to do something different for my own sanity.

Good luck. There are a lot of comforting moments with the profession- and they are never in the data meetings. Stupid meetings.

j4luck said...

There definately is some great advice from veteran teachers posted here. Hopefully your new principal will make some positive changes in response to everyones' low morale; sound like your school is at risk of losing some really great teachers. I often wonder if they realize this!?! I suppose since you can't change the administration, you just have to focus on and find comfort in the moments that make you love teaching. Good luck with "precious" also- she sounds like a sweet girl who wants to do good in school. :)

Urban School Teacher said...

Keep plugging away, keep turning up every day and keep doing your very best to prepare and deliver high quality lessons for your students.

I have been where you are and I know that it does turn around towards the positive. Although not as experienced as many who have left comments here, I have worked in a few tough schools - including my current job - and I am now, finally really relishing my role as a teacher after almost seven years of effort.

Okie Book Woman said...

Joan, I am just now reading this, as I stop in occasionally and read several posts at once. You have already received some great advice, but I wanted to give you additional support. Just from what you write about your kids and your teaching, I can tell that you're a wonderful teacher, and I thank you for that. I'm too recently retired to forget all the stress involved, stress that most people cannot even begin to imagine. But what I remember most now, after about a year and a half away from teaching, is the kids. I loved the kids, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to touch those lives. You are making a difference--especially to those tough kids! And when it's all said and done, NCLB will never dominate your thoughts. Instead, you'll remember the children.