I’m tired. I’m not gonna sugar coat it. Teaching through a pandemic has exacerbated an already tenuous situation. Teaching has always been stressful. It has always been exhausting. It’s always been too much work for too little pay, constantly being pulled in too many directions, being expected to fill too many roles, and never feeling like you can catch a break.
I taught from home for more than a year. It was really tough. My favorite part of my job, the spontaneous, genuine interactions with young people, all but disappeared overnight. They were replaced with soaring anxiety, overwhelming feelings of despair, frustration, deep sadness, and a lot of tears. (My own children fared only marginally better, but there were definitely a lot of tears and frustrations all around.)
Now that I’ve been back teaching in person for a full semester, I find that I’m still struggling, and I get really frustrated with myself about that. I tell myself I should be doing better: our school is taking better covid precautions than many, I’m teaching classes that I enjoy, and my students are so much fun. Instead, I find myself dreading going to work each day. What is wrong with me, I wonder?
What is wrong with me? Well, today, a mere two miles from my home, two students were shot outside their school. One of those kids did not survive. Many are directly impacted by this senseless and tragic violence, many more feel the effects less intensely.
Yet, at the same time as we reel, as we mourn, as we stare into space in a shocked daze, there are adults crowding school board meetings around the country fighting against covid-19 prevention measures. Parents fight to keep school buildings open, no matter the cost to teachers and students alike, because “kids need to be in school.” But they refuse to do anything to make schools safe for students and educators.
The only thing that’s changed in all of this is me. Maybe I’m at my breaking point. Maybe I’ve reached my limit. When I got word of the shooting outside a nearby school, my thoughts went first to my own kids. They were safe. This time. And so was I. But I’m not sure I can continue to sacrifice my own mental and physical health to do the job I love. I don’t know if I even want to.