The hard part of teaching is coming to grips with this:
There is never enough.
There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.
As a teacher, you can see what a perfect job in your classroom would look like. You know all the assignments you should be giving. You know all the feedback you should be providing your students. You know all the individual crafting that should provide for each individual’s instruction. You know all the material you should be covering. You know all the ways in which, when the teachable moment emerges (unannounced as always), you can greet it with a smile and drop everything to make it grow and blossom.
You know all this, but you can also do the math. 110 papers about the view of death in American Romantic writing times 15 minutes to respond with thoughtful written comments equals — wait! what?! That CAN’T be right! Plus quizzes to assess where we are in the grammar unit in order to design a new remedial unit before we craft the final test on that unit (five minutes each to grade). And that was before Chris made that comment about Poe that offered us a perfect chance to talk about the gothic influences, and then Alex and Pat started a great discussion of gothic influences today. And I know that if my students are really going to get good at writing, they should be composing something at least once a week. And if I am going to prepare my students for life in the real world, I need to have one of my own to be credible.
If you are going to take any control of your professional life, you have to make some hard, conscious decisions. What is it that I know I should be doing that I am not going to do?
Every year you get better. You get faster, you learn tricks, you learn which corners can more safely be cut, you get better at predicting where the student-based bumps in the road will appear. A good administrative team can provide a great deal of help.
But every day is still educational triage. You will pick and choose your battles, and you will always be at best bothered, at worst haunted, by the things you know you should have done but didn’t. Show me a teacher who thinks she’s got everything all under control and doesn’t need to fix a thing for next year, and I will show you a lousy teacher. The best teachers I’ve ever known can give you a list of exactly what they don’t do well enough yet."
…This is why, after only one year, I will teach again this year to get my teaching credential and then go back to college for another degree. I cannot live my life constantly feeling that I’m not good enough, whilst also being broke. Call me weak. Call me a quitter. I will not subject myself to unhappiness, but I will miss being able to work with and impact the lives of children every day.
From one of the best essays we’ve read on teaching in a while.
The Hard Part
This. A million times this.