Monday, March 18, 2013

When What You Do Doesn't Seem to Matter

The past few weeks have been emotional and stressful at work.  So many new changes coming.  3rd Grade Reading Guarantee.  Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.  Words that make me cringe.  That make me get a lump in my throat.  Knots in my stomach.  When will our students ever be told they're good enough?  When will WE as teachers ever be told we're good enough?  I thought to myself, "What DOCTOR is evaluated on how many of their patients die?"  Regardless of whether or not it was their time.  Regardless if their patient came to them when it was too late.  Regardless of whether or not the damage had already been done.  Regardless of whether or not their patients followed their advice and took care of themselves.  Why are we singled out?  So. much. pressure.

The past couple of weeks, I'm not going to lie.  I have questioned whether or not this is the profession for me.  It is so unappreciated.  So many strings attached.  While we have the chance to work miracles, sometimes they're just that.  Miracles.  Our kids come from different situations that are beyond our control.  I take it to heart that I'm supposed to undo all the wrongs.  All the neglect.  All the learning disabilities.  All the things that are completely beyond my control.  I just want to grab the faces of all my little cherubs and say, "Ya know what, sweetheart?  You ARE enough.  I know this is hard.  I know you're scared.  I know you're nervous.  I know it doesn't make sense.  But we will make the best of your time with me and do what we can.  But darling, you ARE enough."  Even when the state says they're not.

I want to cry as I write this.

I can't help but to think my life would be easier and less stressful if I just exited the world of education.  When will I ever be enough?  So "Accomplished" is unattainable.  Good job, you've made me feel like I'll never cut it.  I'll never be enough for you.  Now I know how our kids feel.  And it hurts my soul.

Now you have teachers who argue, bicker, and call each other names because of how "good" or "bad" they are.  Once again, good job, state.  Talking with my father (he had a few choice words to say about all this), but he mentioned that the people in charge think they're "motivating" us by creating these lofty goals for us and our students.  His words were, "These legislators and big wigs think that unless they're behind us with a big stick, we won't be motivated to do better.  But the truth is that they have the opposite effect.  It makes us less motivated and only stresses us out."

I think it's sad that so many of us are feeling like what is one of the most rewarding jobs just isn't worth it anymore.

I've had my good days and bad days this week.  Times of positive emotions.  Times of frustration.

Maybe we'll never change the way we're asked to do things.  Maybe we'll never be trusted to use the education we received.  Maybe we'll never be trusted to make the right decision for our students.  Maybe our principals will never be trusted to do what's right for their school and find good teachers.  Or let go of ones who aren't doing their job.

But tonight I had some thoughts that were comforting.  If we leave our kids, then who will help see them through?  Don't say that someone else could do it.  God put YOU where YOU are for a REASON.  Those kids who come to school hungry.  Those kids who have parents who go out and socialize with friends every night and just give their kids "stuff" so they don't have to spend time with them.  They need YOU.  Not the teacher next door.  Not the substitute.  Not the new teacher looking for a job.  Oh, don't worry...there are kids who need those people.  But your students need YOU.  God knows what He's doing.  You have what that child needs.

And when you're feeling down because of what other people think, just remember to do what you love.  If you love it, it won't matter what other people think.  It doesn't make it any easier to be treated poorly, but as long as you love what you do when you're in that classroom, you're in the right spot.

A blogging friend tonight told me the best thing ever.  She said, "Just keep rocking it.  Besides, give them a little break - it would be a little intimidating to work with such a rockstar. ;)"  By NO means am I some superstar teacher.  But I do strive to think of new things and do things that I think will work best for my students.  But the point is, we should be each other's cheerleaders, not naysayers!  PLEASE give props where props are due.  Encourage your teammates.  Remember we'll all different.  We aren't cookie cutter teachers.  That would be kind of boring and wouldn't be good for the students.  I love how diverse our team is because there's a teacher for each type of child.  We all have such different personalities and ways of doing things.  It's a good thing!  But don't criticize your neighbors.  There are kids who need them, just like there are kids who need you.

And with teachers who struggle, find ways to encourage them.  Don't snub them.

Ladies and gents, we were called to do what we do.  I don't know about you when you were little, but I was taught never to quit in the middle of something just because it's too hard.

Let's be a living example to our families and students of that principle.

I pray you have a good week and hang in there!  We are in this together.  We're all under the same pressure.  We all deal with similar things.  Let's love each other and encourage as much as possible.  When the tough gets going, friends come together and love each other through the thing!!!!

God bless...


  1. Oh Sarah, we may we going through the same things. I question my job each and every day, but once I close the door and do what I think is right the rest of the world disappears. I am there for them. I wish I had an answer about all the testing stuff we have to go through.
    Keep rocking it!
    My Second Sense

  2. Yes, I too have been where you are in the past month. It is so sad that there are so many teachers who love what they do questioning if this is really what God wants us to do. I blogged about this same topic last week and the blessing that I showed me that I was doing what God wanted me to do.

    Keep rocking it!

    Swinging Through Second Grade

  3. I completely understand how you are feeling! The state of education in Ohio is very scary. What helps me get through is to just focus on one day at a time and remind myself why I joined this profession- to make a difference in the lives of kids. I can tell that you are an amazing teacher- keep doing what you're doing! Hang in there!


    The Open Door Classroom

  4. You made so many good points Sarah. I've felt the same way this year. It's been so difficult because we are often prevented from doing what we need to do for the students by the things we are "required" to do. In addition we are constantly faced with smaller budgets and cutbacks (especially teachers). We are being asked to do more with less and it's so frustrating. I just keep trying to remember why I started teaching and how much my students inspire me every day. Keep doing what you're ARE rocking it! You ARE making a difference!

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  5. I have had years where I questioned staying. Ultimately I'm glad that I did, but if I have another terrible year I may not. I love what your father said. It's true no matter how hard we as teachers work, or how hard our students work it is never enough. Love ya girl!

    Rowdy in First Grade

  6. You rock! We all go though times when we aren't sure we'll be able to keep at it. I'm pretty much always unsure. Keep your head up and KNOW that you are doing the best thing for those babies.

  7. I needed to read this so much right now! Thank you for putting into words exactly what I needed to hear. I literally got goosebumps while reading. It's a challenging road, but one I hope I can continue down... Keep up the positive attitude!!

  8. Keep at it! Keep your head up high! In my first year of teaching (almost 15 years ago!!) a teacher told me to keep a HEART WARMERS file. She told me to put in that file things that make my heart smile. Throughout the years that file has gotten so big and when I am really feeling like I am not sure if this is the job for me, I pull out that file. It is filled with letters from former students, filled with pictures of great teaching moments, and a 100th Day of School Crown...where my student "Mia" wrote her name on her crown for the VERY FIRST TIME. You are amazing...keep it up!

  9. I've been struggling with the same thoughts and each and every day, I question if I actually am meant to be a teacher. Especially since I feel like everything is going wrong. Thanks for a heartfelt post :)
    Teaching in the Valley

  10. Thank you so much for this post. I relate to every bit of it, and needed those reminders about why I do what I do.
    Totally Terrific Teaching

  11. Yes, yes, and YES! Thank you for such a great post!

  12. Excellent words, Sarah! Don't stress about this stuff . . . believe it or not, those of us who have been around a while aren't getting stressed because we know that these things come and go, and "this, too, shall pass!" Do a little research on the 4th grade guarantee from @2000. (See, you don't even know much about it because it came, and it went when they figured out the logistics weren't going to work!) These policies are made by politicians sitting in their ivory towers because they think it will please their voters and get them re-elected. Just do what you are doing . . . you do a great job and help your kids so much. I'm choosing to not get swallowed up in the policies . . . shut my door and teach my kiddos. In a year or so, someone else will be elected and that person will come up with the next "great" idea . . . never mind involving teachers to see if it is feasible! LOL Don't give up . . . just teach . . . See ya in a few hours!

  13. Such great point and such comforting words. In my first year, in the 48th lowest paid state (Coming from one of the highest where I couldn't find a job), it's been hard, emotional, frustrating, and just plain tiring. I'm overworked, overtired, and go way above and beyond my call of duty. But everytime I look at those little ones that need me, that tell me I'm the best teacher ever, that cry because they won't see me for 3 weeks during intersession, that tell me that was the most fun they've ever had learning, I know it's all worth it. I can't change the "big wigs" and their thoughts, whether they think its for the best or not, but I can help these kids.. & that's where our hearts are & always will be! :)


  14. Amen! Everything you said is so true. Even as a second year teacher, I can already feel the stress and burn out and wonder why we are being held to such ridiculous standards. However, you are totally right that we cannot abandon our kids! God has called us to love the children in our care no matter what is going on in their lives or ours. Thanks so much for the reminder! I hope and pray things will get better for you and that God will give you the strength to carry on when times are tough.

    Compassionate Teacher

  15. Beautifully said! I love the prayer at the end of the post. Is that from Stephanie Ackerman? Love her blog:)

    The Resourceful Apple

  16. Thank you for the prayer. I will post it tomorrow when I go back from Spring Break, and look at it often as I travel through the last nine weeks. I appreciate the reminder that we are in this together and to love each other. Thanks!
    Mrs. Bartel’s School Family

  17. Awesome post. I agree with everything you said. Hang in there.