This morning I woke up thinking that it was Wednesday. Clearly, in my mind, I was only half way through the week. On Monday there was no school because of President's Day. And Monday night the snow gods managed yet again to conveniently extend our three day weekend into a four day weekend. Last time it was an extended MLK Day holiday thanks to the snow gods.
This morning, I found myself looking forward to getting back to school. Only six school days remain until the dreaded MSA state standardized testing takes place. I wanted to get back to school in order to get back to work with my kids in preparation for their testing. This year has been a year of pressure. For a reason I can't quite pinpoint, it seems that testing has become incredibly important at our school this year. It is a stress that has been in the back of my mind just simmering away since the beginning of the school year. I think that part of what has helped me deal with the stress is being able to have my creative outlet in my Etsy shop.
Suddenly it has dawned on me that maybe this week is how it should always be-- four days off, three days on. I was home long enough to work on some really fun projects yet at the same time I was yearning to get back to school and to teaching by the time Wednesday rolled around. Lately, I haven't found much to look forward to in terms of going into work. My students are fabulous and I also really like my co-workers, but many other aspects of what I enjoyed about teaching a couple years ago are left by the wayside.
Part of my frustrations come from the stresses of standardized testing because having to teach to a test means throwing all (well almost all) of your creativity out the window. Another part of my frustration comes from teaching a subject that is not my first choice subject to teach-- a whole different can of worms that I will not get into because surely it would come back to bite me in the butt. Yet I find that having a chance to balance between my own projects at home and my time teaching has helped me enjoy being in the classroom when I do go back. Imagine what a difference it would make to spread those 180 days of school throughout the entire year. Obviously I would lose out on that fabulous summer vacation time, but maybe that wouldn't be too bad considering that Andrew is at work year round anyway.
On the other hand, maybe it's just the itch-- the five year itch. I have come to realize that honestly there is only so much of an institutionalized life that I can take. There are so many things that I want to do in my lifetime. As I approach the end of my fourth year of teaching in Baltimore and think about entering my fifth next school year, I also begin to wonder how much longer it will be until I burn out completely. I am not a lifetime teacher. I know that. But what remains a question in my mind is how to transition to the next thing and when that transition is meant to be. I suppose for now I will have to find ways to continue pursuing creative outlets until I decide when that time will be.
I know my frustrations are not just my own. I know these are common among other teachers. What I'd love to know is how others cope? What is it that keeps you going during times of frustration? And is there going to be a point when I will feel better about it all? Maybe it is just the mid-school-year blues, but for now it seems the frustrations are here to stay for a while.