Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fired Up or Burned Out?

I have a friend who often remarks that I should "write a book" about fighting burn out. She says she doesn't know other teachers of my vintage who are so dismissive of retirement. I always laugh this off, but secretly I take it as a high compliment.

Of course, from time to time my enthusiasm is sorely tested. This week , when the temperatures have stayed in the 90's F, I thought I might literally reach my boiling point in my unairconditioned class room-- talk about burn out!

But other more chronic matters test my endurance:

* The mundane several-times-daily chores of taking attendance and dealing with absence.
* The continual babysitting duties of homeroom or student assemblies.
*The too-frequent P.A. break-ins at the beginning of class for our fund-raisers yammering and the like.
* Burned out teachers who project the bitterness of their own lives onto students or administrators.
* Parents and students who only care about grades.
* Parents and students who don't care about anything related to school

But strangely, though I can whip off my share of gripes in a moment's notice, I've actually looked forward to each day of school as I begin my 36th year in the trade. That's because it doesn't have to be routine. Teaching is one of those rare professions that allows one to erase all old business and start fresh. Each year, I initiate at least one new project. I'm taking a new approach to assessment in American Government. Each course has new projects Soon after that, I will be throwing myself into M-Hub, a new extra-curricular interest.

I have a new professional development role at the school and I am engaged in an exciting Challenged Based learning project with Apple Education. Teaching in general and my school in particular allow for an infinite number of approaches and methods. I guess, depending on they look at it, that's something folks in my field shut out or embrace. I think the latter mind-set is the way to keep the burn out at arm's length.

"Red / Day 40 (themed)" Flickr CC photo by Aaron Gosselin

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