Teacher Low Points

I only played The Sims once in my life at a friend’s house in middle school. What I distinctly remember about this game is the thing about the energy levels of the characters: If they didn’t get enough food or rest or social encounters, they died. Simple as that.

And that is how I feel like at the moment. Like my energy levels are all flashing a bright red.

I can’t go on.

Since the last break, school has been in session for nine weeks. Doesn’t sound like a lot now, does it? To a teacher though, it’s an eternity, and the longer this eternity drags on, the more tired and irritable everyone becomes, teachers and kids alike.

Let’s have a rundown of all the delightful things that have happened in the past 2-3 weeks: I’ve had kids puking in the middle of the classroom, kids collapsing in the middle of the classroom, kids hurting each other with words and actions during recess. I’ve had conferences with colleagues, with students, and with students and their parents. I’ve had a whole day of observed lessons. I’ve had kids performing badly in written exams. I’ve had parents attacking me personally via e-mail. Each one of those things individually, I can handle. Everything happening at once, I can’t.

The prevalent thought in my head, for weeks at a time now, has been:

“I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.“

As a result, I’ve been dealing with anxieties, nightmares (that could have been turned into amazing action and/or horror movies!) and migraines every single day for an entire week. Not to mention the uncontrolled crying in the staff room once the lessons were over.

This weekend, I’ve reached a stage of numbness. I’ve spent two days straight on the sofa, buried in blankets, watching movies and videos and numbing my mind. Pretending I don’t have to go back to work on Monday.

Here’s the thing: This is not the first time teaching has made me feel this way. I’ve been working in schools for three years now and I’ve hit what they call rock bottom more times than I can remember.

Which makes me think that I’m just not cut out for this job. Being a teacher is so much more than being good at teaching and good with people (which in itself is a lot already, some might say). It’s about energy levels, too. And thick skin when it comes to being attacked, again and again.

My colleague tells me that I need to toughen up. That wining and self-pity aren’t going to get me anywhere. That with more experience, I’ll get better at dealing with personal attacks and all the madness that is the primary school classroom.

I know it does for some people, but I honestly don’t know if that’ll hold true for me.

I’m not sure if I really want this life as a teacher, where you study, take exams, go through a horrid training and more exams, then once you finally get the payed job and work harder than you ever imagined you would, people give you uncalled-for crap, over and over. Because the students might change, but the parents who complain and want to take you down, won’t. They will always be there.

Now there are two options, and I’ve seen different teachers go down these two different paths.

There are the teachers who want out, too, but are way to afraid to leave the job because what other job could a person with an academic background, leadership skills, organizational talent, a creative and problem-solving mind and a strong work ethic possibly do in this world?

Then there are the teachers who, despite being talented and an asset for any school that could have them on staff, walk away from it, to seek out opportunities in life that will make them happier.

My future as a primary school teacher is yet again hanging in the balance. All I want is to live a somewhat calm and content life. I genuinely doubt this is the way to go for me in the long run.





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