Stressing Like a Rock Star


it’s that time of year.  The holiday season is over, back to the grind, standardized tests are looming.  In my previous years of teaching I have seem stress levels increase and was able to provide some stress relief.  This year, with state testing looming large a few months from now, my stress level has gone up a lot.  Throw into the mix that a few visits to my classroom (which I welcome) and some big time illnesses spreading around my household and that makes for a week to remember.  With all that said, I had to remind myself of a few things and cling to the things I know to be true in my classroom to pull me through.

  1. Confide in someone.  For me this was easy, my wife is always my sounding board for stressors in my life.  This week however, she was sick and that took its toll on my mental health.  I tried to confide in her without overwhelming her sick condition with my stress.  At the end of the week, when all was well in my house, I took the opportunity to really confide in my wife and that cures a lot of stress.  She provided me with perspective and reason that gets lost in the shuffle sometimes.
  2. Know that you’re doing the right thing in your classroom.  This presupposes that your doing the right thing in the classroom.  I took some time this past week to reexamine some choices I’ve made for my classroom this year.  While I can immediately list some things I would like to change next year, I also see the track that is leading to achievement in my classroom.  I also have a plan for preparing for what is to come in my classroom.  Just reiterating the plans for my classroom reminded the little voice inside my head that yes, we are on the right track.
  3. Take some alone time.  I really enjoy time to sit and think without the need for conversation.  That being said, I also have a toddler and a pregnant wife who like to talk with me.  I had to be very intentional to get away from people and spend some time thinking about things that don’t revolve around my classroom.  It was very therapeutic for me.

I know that these stresses are managed not done away with, but my weekend has included all of the following.  I have refueled my confidence and I’m ready to reenter the fray of public education.  Thank goodness for a weekend of recentering myself!


Finding My Voice…Again


I think something that was under-sold to me as a beginning teacher is the need to find your voice as an educator.  I would look at other teachers and think that they had it all figured out and I wished I could be more like them.  This school year has been a wakeup call for me in a lot of ways because I have to relearn everything I knew about school operations and at the same time learn a completely new content.  Throw on top that I have never been in a tested subject before and it has been quite a whirlwind for me.  Throughout this year I have learned the importance of teaching style and working alongside people who think differently than you do.

Until this year I have never taught early US history in my life.  As I reflect, I know that I have taken this course before, but I can’t really remember when.  I have helped with tutoring for state testing before this year, but other than that I have little recollection of what happened in US history.  I knew that I could probably create all the curriculum I would need on my own, but that seemed like a lot of trial and error along the way.  The other team for my grade has a very good US history teacher so why would I not learn from her?

As the year has progressed, I’ve found myself less and less enthusiastic about the content that I’m teaching.  At first I really couldn’t understand why that was, but as I reflected more I found that it was because I was teaching through my co-worker’s voice and not my own.  In this case, it’s completely necessary for me to learn from her and do some similar things in my classroom, but I don’t know that our rooms will ever be carbon copies ever again.