I have struggled to continue blogging regularly this year, and I've been thinking a lot about why that might be. As things often are, it's a complex answer involving grief, exhaustion, my doctoral studies, family needs, and challenges at school. Grief has changed my writing audience. Since my dad died, I have been writing to him - one long letter processing what's happening in my family and with my grief. 16 months later, his death is still very raw, but writing to him helps me feel close to him.
This year I started my 29th year of teaching. I'm happy to report that 1) I still like what I do!; 2) I haven't become that jaded, bitter teacher I was afraid of becoming, and 3) I still have new and creative ideas all the time. That feels like a win.
Unhappily, though, teaching has become harder and harder, and it's never (almost) because of the kids. It is true that I am seeing more trauma, more anxiety, less attention, and more distractions in my students than ever, and I can bet that many teachers around the country are also experiencing this. Post-pandemic teaching is no joke, too. It's not easy to try to get students back on track, help them regain studentship skills, and propel their learning.
However, the hardest part about teaching lately is what's happening all around me. Criticism of teachers in the form of social media posts, school committee public comments, articles, and more leave many teachers wondering how much longer they can stay in the profession and stay positive. More and more this year, I have come to understand the power of having a strong collegial community, and of an active union. Both of those aspects of my profession have shown me what can happen when groups come together and work collaboratively with a goal in mind.
Next year, I will start my 30th year of teaching. I have a hard time believing that I have been teaching that long when I had never planned to be a teacher! I still have some years left before I can retire, and I just hope I remain enthusiastic, caring and unjaded until that day comes.