Saturday, October 23, 2010

TGIS- Thank God it's Saturday.

Today is Saturday and Thank God it is.

I will preface what I am about to write by saying this- I really love my job.  I feel like it is not a job, it is actually a calling.  I know that many people would argue that "good teachers" can be made and I believe that as well.  But I actually believe that I was born and meant to be doing this job...

...right now.

But after a week like this week, I wonder... is there more for me?

How long will I be able to continue to do this job? 

I've heard the warnings and the stories- "special ed. teachers burn out quickly."  I've heard 5 years, 10 years, 15 years... And I always believed that those people were a little weak. I mean, this is the best job in the world.  These kids... these kids are amazing.  They make me smile and they say funny things, and every success is worth celebrating!  And I mean cheering, clapping, and yelling horraaaaaay type celebrating...

But what about all the other stuff?

I keep hearing business people (and other "non-teachers") say that it must be nice to work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, with summers off.

Riiiiiight.  You'd think it would be nice.

But I've already written a big blog about what I do, how hard I work, how much I work, how I don't take days off... So, I won't do that again.

But, I will say... THIS JOB IS HARD.

Staff meetings are hard.  PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) are worthwhile, but hard.  They're hard when you feel like no one in the room can possibly understand what you do.  Sure, they all do grades, they all grade papers (though maybe they would have less grading to do if they stopped giving so many papers), they all deal with behaviors and challenges and lots of kids and parents.  But can they really understand? 

Can they really understand that in 39 days of school, one parent has written me 33 emails, 25+ handwritten notes, and called 5+ times?  And our district has a policy of responding within 24 hours. 

There's communication. With parents.  With service providers like OT, PT, SLP, Therapeutic horseback riding instructors, and Music Therapists.  With special education coordinators.  With specialists.  With outside/private therapists.  With home program coordinators.  With SST3 staff.   With homeroom teachers and principals and special education aides.

And that's just the beginning.

There's paperwork.  Not grading the papers you hand out, but actual legal documents that must be completed within a time frame. IEPs. IEP progress reports. Report Cards. Doctors' forms about ADHD. ETRs. MFE reports. Alternate Assessments.

You get the point.

So how long can you go on like this?

I turned down a date last week because I didn't have the time to go...

How do I separate my calling from my life?

How do I refresh and recharge?  And will I need to refresh and recharge every 39 days this year???

And I just need to know... do you get tired... exhausted...

And do you feel guilty for feeling this way?

Because I do.


Inger said...

Oh you are so right with this. I am at the other end of the spectrum, coming to the end of my career. I still love my work and especially my students.

Why am I coming to the end of my career? Surely as a committed life long learner, loving the freshness of the possibilities for the future in ITs, this will go on forever?

Not so, physically I am burnt out. My body is telling me in so many ways that this cannot go on for much longer or I will be physically gone.

Do I feel guilty - oh yes, so much so that I don't look after myself in the best way I can.

Maybe, just maybe, when I have properly rested up, I can look at it all again with my eyes of experience and share my knowledge and understanding once again.

However, I will need to take a break to regain my strength.

Ruth Holland said...

I too am coming to the end of my career. I have 8 years left. Last year I thought about taking a buy out our district was offering. I went to the National CEC convention in Nashville. There was a renewal for me. I spent a full week in Nashville, visited with family there and returned to my rural island of Key West. Until I attended that convention I felt isolated and alone in what I do. I am the only special ed teacher in our small district that works with ages 18-22 in a community based program. I am the chief cook and bottle washer, our administrator does not even know what I do or the extent of the work required for the students to learn authentically in community based instruction. That being said, I am writing this after a two full day training in technology designed for Math and Science honors teachers, they were trained in movie making and podcasting, I weaseled my way in and do not think the teachers attending had any idea of why I was there. The reason I was there was to learn all I can to open the world up to my students through technology. If I am to stay focused for 8 more years, i learned during that convention last spring, that I would have to reach out of my geographical area to collaborate, commiserate and relate with others who understand this job. I too am in it for the calling, it is my life work, I am one of the first generation special ed teachers, I have been in this profession from the inception of PL94-142 an all the reauthorizations of IDEA, there is a history that I am proud and a legacy i want to leave. We will make it. I will never leave this calling, although in 8 more years, I will do it on my terms, not a systems terms. I love your blog. You can do this, and you must take time for you. I have two hobbies, motorcycle riding and paddleboarding. I do both every chance I get. I save to go for long distance motorcycle rides in the summer to clear my head. We have to take care of us and stick together. Eat, Pray, Breathe, Love, PLAY AND teach.

Anonymous said...

I too feel like it's a calling and I love my job, however feeling totally exhausted at the end of a very busy is difficult to handle when it happens most weekends. Here is what I am trying to do this year: If I stay at school til 4 or after I won't bring work home, I will take Saturdays completely off and on Sunday afternoons I will recharge myself by reading all the wonderful posts that my twitter friends offer. Now this doesn't always happen but it's what I am striving for because I truly love my job.

Karen_VolunteerSpot. said...

Thank you! In 1973, I had a sister with special needs and I vividly remember visits to her 'special' school where all the 'special' kids went. In 2005 my daughter entered kindergarten in TX and it was joyous to see kids just like my sister in her classroom and grade. Kids with cerebral palsy, kids with speech and cognitive disabilities. My daughter is in 5th grade now and these kids have grown up together - friends. Sure, they're aware of each others' gifts and limitation, but they're a class and they truly like and respect each other. My daughter and my community is better for it.

Thank you for speaking up!