This is Reality

Today I found out the heartbreaking news that a co-worker passed away after a long battle with depression.

About an hour later, I heard about a principal in our community who had a heart attack the night before. He is someone who is known to sleep very little and work all hours of day and night to make sure his school was a special place for all kids.

After I had moved away from the Denver area a few years back, I heard about my teammate and quasi-mentor ( we both taught third-grade and were the only male teachers) who began struggling with a stress-induced sickness so severe that he was required to take a year-long absence from teaching by his doctor.

This is reality.

We are running ourselves into the ground.

We are literally killing ourselves to be the best we can be.

I began teaching 13 years ago. Out of all the people that I either went to school with or were friends with that went into education, only 2 remain in the profession.

This is reality.

Teaching is not a 9-5 job where we can turn off work mode and turn on home mode all the time. It involves work outside of the mandated hours. I get that.

Yet, there is a narrative being spun that is not only categorically false but dangerous, possibly even deadly.

.It’s the narrative that putting kids first at all costs, even to the detriment of ourselves, is the magic potion to improving behavior, improving test scores, improving culture and relationships, and ultimately improving education.

The narrative suggests that if you don’t do these things, you aren’t a committed teacher. You don’t have the kids’ best interests at heart. You won’t be a good teacher.

You hear it constantly, especially on social media. Our own educational thought leaders tout it as the only way education will work. You begin to internalize it because you hear it from every “expert” and “consultant” out there. You begin to feel twinges of guilt when you think about going to a game instead of preparing for tomorrow’s lesson or not having tests returned to your students the next day because you chose to go out to dinner with your spouse. It becomes a slippery slope where you get to the point that you slowly weed out anything personal and focus solely on the professional.

This is reality.

Theoretically, it sounds great. It tugs at our heartstrings. We all went into teaching because of the kids. They are our world. They are the reason why we are in the classroom each day. So when someone says that it must be about the kids, of course, we agree. If we disagreed, people would begin to question why we are a teacher and our motivation for being there. It puts us in a tough place.

This is reality.

The reality is, I don’t want to burn out more than I have. I don’t want to get sick to the point I have to leave the profession. I don’t want to lose my life for teaching. Yes, I feel like education is my job, my passion, and my calling, but it’s not worth dying for.

This is my reality.



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