Teaching is also a profession that relies on your emotional energy. We teach because we care for so many young people, and when we care for so many young people, we don’t have one, two or three children, but thirty, forty or a hundred. Did Johnny have lunch today? Was it possible for Mohamed to find a friend to play with during recess? How is Xi Wen doing with her mother for another 3 months in China today? Did Tina get enough sleep last night? How can I support Ryder’s mom who works night shifts to help Ryder with her homework?
It is a daily truth for us that our students bring their lives at home when they come to school. It is also true that as teachers, when we go home, we take our school day worries with us. This can be overwhelming, especially when our homes have their own stresses and we are navigating the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We may have spouses, children, or aging parents. We may have health concerns, house maintenance issues, or budget constraints. We may have hobbies that we never get enough time for and passions that we neglect. And it’s often our fault that no matter what we do, it’s never enough.
Teachers are superheroes. We try everything and often we succeed, but sometimes it is very expensive. Compassion fatigue is common among teachers and can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. In fact, approximately 1 in 42 pre-Christ public school teachers are on disability stress-related leave. We have to recognize that we are human and respect our limits. Sometimes it’s important that we take off that superhero cloak, look at what we’re doing, recognize the need to conserve our energy, and say, “You know what, that’s good enough.” Could I spend another 15 minutes on this handout and have it perfect? Yeah, but it’s good enough. Is this lesson exactly how I want it to be, and does it cover all aspects of the new curriculum that I want? No, but it’s good enough. Have I responded to Rhett’s emotional problem in the way that is most likely to help you? Maybe not, but I’ve tried my best and that has to be good enough.
We cannot always be everything for everyone. The good news is, we don’t have to be. We are an adult in the life of the children who come through our rooms. We are one of many teachers that they interact with, learn from, and connect with. We don’t have to do everything because there are others who share the burden. So if we find ourselves in a place where we cannot be our best teaching selves, if only we have the energy and emotional ability to be “good enough,” that is indeed good enough.
Do not suffer in silence until it interferes with your work or personal life. If you’re scared of going to school and the emotional work of the day, speak to your district or BCTF wellness contact. (https://www.bctf.ca/wellness/)
This blog entry is an article from a MyPITA newsletter. Some minor changes are included.
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