Phoenix

Focusing on the Teacher Part of the Teacher Leader (I Am New)

Jose Vilson Jose 5 Comments

Phoenix

Phoenix

Confession time: this teacher has been a little down on his luck will. My girlfriend pointed out to me this year that I’ve shared less stories about what happens inside the classroom, particularly discussing the kids themselves. At first, I wanted to come up with counterexamples, thinking that this may be some brain warp I just made up myself.

But no, she was right.

And in saying that, she helped me come to terms with my lack of passion which has been replaced with a bit of malaise. I’ve become discontented with some surrounding situations and the futility of the policies and structures (or lack thereof) in my building. This isn’t purely administrative or anything, but I wonder if NYC Department of Education as a whole actually cares about our kids. Thus, as a teacher leader, some of the energy with which I approached my profession became negative thoughts that didn’t let me be the transformative leader I pegged myself to be.

In other words, I officially saw the burnout.

And the burnout isn’t just something you wake up with the next morning and shower it off. It’s like a slow motion plane crash. At first, it’s really fast and you know there’s something wrong, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Yet, you do nothing to change it and just continue spinning out of control. This is where I usually hear “It’s just getting around to the end of the year, of course you feel this way.

No. It’s unacceptable.

I don’t like the feeling of knowing that something I felt so passionate about, so enthralled in, that which succumbs the majority of my life’s work, the profession that has often given me cause to continue on into the next day, would leave me so readily. I affirm that I’m done with the BS, done with the gossip, the hate, the malfeasance, the idiocy, and the lies that have somehow coated my armor during this rough patch. It’s time to get re-motivated and positive about this year.

And so I probably crashed sometime last week just in time for the NYS Math Test. The best part about this crash, though, is that I didn’t fall nose first. I’ve landed softly on this plateau where I can recognize this as a minor setback to the overall plan. Fortunately, I have people I can bounce ideas off of and real patience that tempers me really.

Most of all, I had the wherewithall to, after all the periods teaching, and my presentation about inquiry team, to sit down in my desk, and start cleaning up that g-d-awful mess on my desk. With the hallways silent and the doorways mostly shut, I felt like the last man standing.

I am new.

Jose

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 5

  1. AngelaMichelle

    in every profession, if you do it long enough and give enough of yourself to it, comes with a period of “lull” where enthusiasm is concerned. but it’s great that you realize this is just a momentary phase, are able to shake off the dust and find the place where you rebirth yourself.

    great as always.

  2. LuzMaria

    Unfortunately, you have had a very difficult year because the powers to be could not get it together. In our profession, the emotional and mental exhaustion can have a profound effect upon us. Also, remember that other responsibilities have been placed upon you took time away from your instruction. With all that being said, remember to be kind to yourself at all stages. Being reflective is one of the necessary tools we must practice all the time in order not to fall into the perpetual cascading abyss of apathy and negativity. The gossip, frustration, indifference, and lack of motivation that you find in that cafeteria does not only stay there. It is apparent in the hallway, the classroom environment, instruction, and our kids are on the receiving end.

    Now is where the fun will begin for you, Jose. The feelings you have are going to be the core motivating factors you need to create that magic and transmit that energy to your kids. It will be great because you will make it so and at the same time you are emerging as a teacher leader for your peers, not the administrators. You are setting the bar high again.

    Si se puede!!!!!

  3. MarcyWebb

    Jose, there are so many things that can take a teacher down. In fact, I think that the teaching profession does a lot of damage to the very people who are trying to do a most necessary job. So many battles – at the building level, district level, state level and national level – to be waged while trying to be passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic.

    If it were only about getting to the end of the year. Teacher burnout is so much more.

  4. Jonathan

    And now? A month later?

    One advantage of doing this job for a long time, and learning to do it well… I’ve had the same thing happen to me, and while I am fully aware of it, I don’t know that the kiddies pick it up…

    Deep breath. Not the end of the world. Ride it. Regather yourself. Put it back together.

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