The Crossroads are in Sight

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It appears that I am coming to a crossroads in my professional life as a Special Educator or even as an educator – yet again.

When I came back to teaching in October ’09, I really believed that this was what I was meant to do and I relished being back in the classroom. I would like to believe that I am a pretty darn good special education teacher and I think a few others do also.

However since the new year something has really been missing and I can’t put my finger on what it is. The person who used to jump out of bed at 5:00 A.M. to get ready to get out the door and face the challenges of a new day at school, now grunts and groans about having to get up and go in, procrastinates and finds other things to do, where I used to live my life around being a teacher.

Whatever the factors causing this change are, they seem to be a pretty big deal, because I find myself not wanting to go to school more days than not. Oh I still go and do what needs to be done, but it isn’t the same.

What are the reasons for these changes? I am not sure but over the course of these next 75 days, I have to figure it out. If I do not find out what is missing/wrong or if I do and I am not able to rectify whatever “it” is. Then I will be forced to look very carefully at what being a Special Educator or an educator means to me and what my choices will be.

Is it simply the time of the year (as one person suggested) and it will pass? Or are other teachers feeling this way too?  I am searching and scratching my head for answers.

I hate heading towards the crossroads again, so soon.

What have you done to make a difference today?

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9 thoughts on “The Crossroads are in Sight

  1. Harold, From your posts and what you have told me, I think you are a truly special educator and your students would suffer if you weren't there for them. This is a difficult time of year for many educators-when the results of their efforts may or not be apparent- and many question their effectiveness. I can only suggest that you think of all of the good things that you have done for your students this year and in years past and ask yourself if the students would have been better off without them. I can only go on what I have heard and seen but I think the answer would have to be that you have made a difference and your students are better off because of you.Feel free to drop me a DM if you like or send one to my e-mail. If you don't have it ill send it to you. Hope things go well for the next 75 days. Take care, Tom

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  2. I understand what you're feeling as I've felt the same way much of the year, so have many of my colleagues. Part of it, for me, was the feeling that what I did really didn't matter to anyone in any positive way. Oh, the kids still seemed to be changing if only at sub-glacial speed, and my administration still supported me, but the pressure to perform had increased while the resources decreased, and every time i looked at the newspaper or television there was someone else telling me that everything wrong with the nation was my fault. Well, not just my fault, your fault, too. You know where I'm going with this.The fact is, we do matter and in a very positive way, but you are feeling the stress of the job and the position in society and have lost sight of why you eagerly went to work last year and the years before that. All that matters are our students, the rest of the nonsense is just that, nonsense. Take care of your students and take care of yourself. And if you get the chance to be the librarian, jump for it.

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  3. Deven/Tom – I appreciate the support, I just as you said have to find my mojo again, but it is tougher to do so than it has been in the past. There is a lot unsaid in the above post, as we all know discretion is a necessary thing when you are a teacher, as some who weren't learned the hard way. Sometimes I wonder if regular ed would be any better or not. Oh well time will tell and I am sure it will be for the best whatever road I take, but I will still make a difference whatever I end up doing.I wonder if I am getting tired of teaching being a lifestyle, not just a job? I have a feeling that part of what I am feeling.No this is not a pity party on my part, but I am reaching out to my PLN to give me some advice on the crossroad I see ahead of me.ThanksHarold

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  4. Hey there Harold, I remember feeling something like this in the past and it was this feeling that spurred me to start a podcast. For me, it was putting my creative energies into building something that helped kick me out of my rut. Perhaps there's something that needs building; either alone, with colleagues, or with students? Good luck and please remember that you're not at all alone!

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  5. My comment got eaten. As a parent of two Special Ed kids, I cannot leave. There are times when feel like saying, "Take my kids. Please." A year ago yesterday I was jarred out of complacency by a loud knock at the door by a DCFS investigator who could have done just that. My question to you is, if someone told you for some arbitrary reason, that you could not ever, ever, ever teach Special Ed again, how would you feel? Regret? Relief? The teacher our daughter had last year decided to leave teaching. She was a great teacher. She was conscientious. I was disappointed when she told she was leaving, but given the principal she had, I couldn't blame her. What did I do to make a difference today? I bought groceries. I made dinner. I hugged my daughter's head and she hugged mine back. I also took a bit of time to tend to my garden and admire purple crocuses about to bloom. None of these acts are earth shattering. But it's all about love. Of self and others. I cannot and will not tell you what to do. Only you can know. I do know one thing. We need more conscientious teachers especially in Special Ed But I do know that it lends itself to burn out. If you leave, do not feel guilty. You will disappoint some, but you have to do what is best for you.

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  6. Chances are it's vitamin d deficiency since this winter has been so long. Try to spend some time in the sun (when possible) or increase your intake and see if that helps with the "I DON'T WANNA's" Luckily my office has 360 deg windows so if the sun is out I'm getting hammered and recently I've been feeling better daily, not as grumpy. If that isn't it it might be time to go out and have a mid life crisis and get a motorcycle and ride it in snow storms….wait that was my mid life crisis….oh well you'll find your own path. Always here if you need to vent or bounce ideas of a sounding board.Mike

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  7. Thank you for the comments. Chris thanks for the idea, but I tried Podcasting a few years ago, I sound too much like a frog that someone wants to croak 🙂 I still have my sense of humor.Miss Shuganah – I understand about the every day acts of bravery and love that parents of special education children go through everyday – was one. Burnt out and a little crispy, maybe. The kids are what keep me in Special Ed, the other things are what will make me leave. Just have to figure out the balance.Mike – I wish it were as simple as a vitamin D deficiency, it is a bit more than that and I already take supplements for it on Dr's orders for over a year now, so that's not it. I have a feeling that my midlife crisis came and went and you helped me through that. No this is more simple, as you know there are other factors involved and it has come to a question of time and priorities. Is staying in education worth my nights and weekend with my wife/family or do I continue the teaching lifestyle? Do I go out and look for an hourly wage job, instead of having a salaried position? Both have several advantages, but I am less worried about the dollars and more worried about my quality of life beyond work.I guess it is that getting older thing where time becomes more valuable to you as you get older.Harold

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  8. I do understand, Harold. If I didn't have a sense of humor, other people to talk to, something else to engage my brain and gardening, I'd go nuts. We'd be a news story.I remember Kid O's one teacher telling me that much as she loved her kids, she also needed to teach adults at the community college. I feel similarly. I take time outs as needed. I have a good friend who lives outside of Cleveland. When he sees that I am starting to lose it, he invites me out there to his place in the country. His wife is also very congenial. My husband stayed there himself on a drive to and from Chicago to eastern end of New York State. I was glad he had a good place to crash. Helps to have salt of the earth people like this in my life. This friend is one of two who has told me I can call 24/7. If not him then I can very likely reach another friend. Both good to talk to in a pinch. No easy answers. i went from teaching to the hourly wage job thing. And then to the stay at home thing, something I never would have dreamed I'd be doing. Each choice leaves a certain ambiguity. What I think you need to ask yourself is what ambiguity gives you the least amount of angst. The least amount of angst for me was when I left my job as a legal proofreader. That was a no brainer. Other things have not been so easy.

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