Today I was trying to get a lesson together for tomorrow and had a major throw-back to last year. The urge to toss my papers to the floor and storm out of my apartment came way to close to fruition. I'm not even sure what brought it on. The lesson I was trying to come up with was just not coming to me, which probably aggravated the problem, but the issue of lesson writer's block has happened before this year. Luckily I had a scheduled break to go hang out with a friend of mine for a couple hours and to get my mind off of work.
There would be nights last year when I would bang my head against things. There would be nights when I'd get so frustrated that I'd throw my fifth grade New York State history text across my apartment and fume, thinking, "Why the hell am I putting this much effort into a lesson that my students are going to ignore, trample over and complete a fraction of anyway? What incentive do I have to do my job if they aren't even going to attempt their job?!! This is a crock of sh**." The mental block that got in the way of my lessons last year was that I imagined every part of it being torn apart by unruly students, as was the case most days in my classroom. It was as if my mind anticipated those problems and said, "Nope, that won't work. They aren't going to listen if you do or say that. Scrap that one." It pissed me off further that I knew I'd be able to write a lesson if they'd just listen for once. Today my mind remembered that feeling all too well, perhaps because a few of my students this year have gotten on my nerves lately.
Take a breath. Take a break. Walk away from the lesson and come back to it.
This was the time of year when things continued to get harder for me last year. While I'd grown numb to certain parts of the job, my self-assumed failure as an educator was still glaring at me every second I was in the classroom. It was getting pretty old by December. My mentors kept saying that things would get better, that the second year would be infinitely better and that I needed to stick in there. At this point last year I was about ready to tell them to shove it.
If this is your first year and things aren't stellar, get a grip and hold on tighter until after winter break. December is not the most glorious month for teaching. The sun isn't out, it's getting colder and things aren't great for many of your students at home in the winter. My mentors were right when they said it would get better. It has, and it got better after Christmas last year, but not until after.
If you are having trouble getting through the day-to-day stuff remember that the better job you do writing lessons this year the easier your second year will be. Remember (what you believe to be) the small minority of students who are actually doing their jobs in your classes and the fact that they deserve and need everything you can give them. You didn't jump into this job completely naive of the fact that it would be rough- just of what "rough" would actually mean. Take a deep breath, a longer break is around the corner and you'll be able to rest up and dig in again and prep yourself for the students after winter break.
Today's Wine: A very fine bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet.