If I’m Such a Great Teacher, Why Do I Want to Quit?

April and May are tough times of the year for me. Every year. Right now, I teach straight from 8:11 until 2:11. Then, at 2:11, my room is usually full of kids working on projects for other teachers — needing password resets and help. Then, at 3:03, I sit down to try to grade and plan lessons but I’m so tired, I just wonder what to do.

Great teachers are heroes in a world that has a lot to learn. @coolcatteacher

I’ve written about How to Step Back from Burnout, but this is more than that. Right now, I’m approaching 100,000 Twitter followers, and that is awesome. But in some ways, it is intimidating to me. I don’t feel special. I know I don’t have all the answers. All of you have caused a tad of crisis in my tweeting (which I will get over). Being paid attention to sounds like a very odd problem but really, it is a reflection on responsibility. I want to do right by those of you who trust me and right now, I don’t feel at my best. I’m struggling to stay in the classroom.

I want to encourage and be helpful to teachers. No doubt, that is my calling. And yet, I have this agreement with myself that when I’m too down and have nothing good to say, that I will be very very careful about writing. I am a professional, and there are right and wrong ways to handle problems. There are those who  air their issues on the Net and wait for thousands of vigilant friends to come to their defense. Come on! Grow up. That isn’t how we handle things, in my opinion. There are times but not every time. There are lonely battles I fight by myself.

Exercise is a bit part of my coping mechanism. I take time every day to do it. I helps deal with the stress and makes me feel better. Even a walk around the building can clear my mind and yours.

Exercise is a big part of my coping mechanism. I take time every day to do it. It helps deal with the stress and makes me feel better. Even a walk around the building can clear my mind and yours.

The truth is that I’m having an epically hard time right now. Each morning I get up and work hard to exercise and eat well — anything that I know will boost my mood and help me teach for six hours straight. I stay late grading and have adjusted my schedule to spend time helping students after school. I often wonder how I’m going to make it through the next five weeks. I work hard to keep hold of my thought life and not let it spiral into despair.

So much of my energy is being tied up in “making it” that it becomes quite overwhelming to try to inspire others. I feel insufficient. I feel like you need someone who does everything perfectly, has a perfectly clean room and has all the answers. Yet, one thing I have also discovered: if I see a person who says they are a perfect teacher, they are a liar. Because perfect teachers don’t exist. There are no perfect humans. We all mess up.

Sometimes what we need is not a push but rather a pull to keep going.

A pull towards excellence as the school year ends can help you make it. Let’s encourage each other.

There are many days when I think that the best answer is just to quit.  And yet, I know that it is not my time to leave… yet. When I leave the classroom, I will not quit – I will decide to leave and know that I have another classroom of another kind to tackle. Quit implies giving up. Sometimes there is a time to move on after you finish well.

I think that perhaps it is my time to feel the depths of the struggle that most normal teachers feel. It is my time to push through and find answers for myself that can help others. I had vented a tiny piece of a struggle I had last Thursday, and someone else tweeted back at me, “somehow knowing you had a rough day too, makes mine not so bad.”

New year thought: I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand is in what direction we are moving.

I always ask myself: “What direction am I moving?” I may only take a small step but if it is in the right direction, I’ll take that as a win.

So, maybe this post is just to encourage those of you out there who are real teachers. Some may struggle with the fact that I am not, despite some who argue to the otherwise, a modern day Pollyanna.  I am a realistic optimist. I know the reality of how hard it is going to be to go for another five weeks teaching 6 hours a day straight. I am also optimistic that, as always, I will find a way to soar (even if I feel like I’ve fallen in a mud puddle right now.)

Maybe this post is to help you know that many of us struggle to make it one day to the next. In fact, I’m down to one-minute-at-a-time right now.

Maybe this post is to help you know that you’re not alone. So many of us struggle.

It is not a lack of love for the kids. It is just the reality of all of the bazillions of things that we deal with as a teacher that no one could put in a book. Kids who get sick at the worst times and parents who think they prove their love to their children by how loud they yell at their teacher. People who yell at you without even getting their facts straight. Too many responsibilities and too little time and a struggle to achieve a balance that never quite gets there. I’m not resentful against this profession I love; this profession is what it is. No one can change this for me. I either accept it, or I don’t.

I am a teacher. I am glad to be a teacher. I am glad that it makes a difference in the lives of children. But this profession, like few others, wears on the soul of the person who dons the mantle. It is worthwhile, but it is hard work.

If you’re with me, and you get every word I’m writing then let me tell you this.

I love you and your sacrifice. If I could reach through this computer and give you a hug, I would. If I could sit across from you and buy you a cup of coffee and tell you that you’ll make it, I would. But I can’t do that.  I can only write these words:

Teacher! You are important. Your job is noble and incredible. And you will make it. One foot in front of the other. Do your best, and that is enough. Keep going. Wait and make the big decisions about life when you’re a little more rested and I will too.

We can do this.

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72 thoughts on “If I’m Such a Great Teacher, Why Do I Want to Quit?

  1. Speechless……..

    You speak on ideas, emotions, thoughts, and more of teachers who are working relentlessly every single day and sometimes feel like it is not enough. It is a tough balance for admin to push, but not too much while helping teachers move outside their comfort zones like they expect their students to do. In that delicate balance there are a hundred other factors that chip away at the armor of teaching from both professionally and personally.

    Stay strong and what I believe is that one must follow their heart, their gut, and not stay with what is expected by others, but what is expected by yourself. You cannot help others if you don’t help yourself first.

    Thank you for sharing your honestly and truth in this post.

    • Greets!
      Funny thing is, many people believe teaching is a job or career. It’s not. It’s a lifestyle choice. Sometimes, others interfere with our path who didn’t really make that choice, but it’s our dedication that makes the difference. We outlast those people, or as you say, move on to another classroom of our choosing.
      Hang in there!

      • TEaching is a lifestyle, for sure. It is like nothing I’ve ever done in my life and hard to understand until you do it. I do love my students though — I’m quite smitten, in fact. I have some of the greatest kids this year and am so glad to teach them. Thanks for being encouraging, PoppaMike. (What a great handle.)

    • Thanks Aaron for being such a great supporter of teachers like me and an inspiration for me. It has been incredible to see how this post has resonated with so many people. I think that the feeling of wanting to quit is something that every teacher I’ve talked to since I wrote this post deals with several times a year. It is helpful to know that so many of us feel this way.

  2. Vicki,
    I received a letter recently from a former student who was expressing his gratitude for being “inspired” by his school experience 25 years ago that led to his going on to become a distinguished dentist with advanced degrees, teaching at a Children’s Hospital and helping disadvantaged students. He said that much of this was a result of my “leadership” and values he learned while a student under my influence. I can’t take all the credit but I remember him well and was both surprised and humbled to receive the letter. I call it the “payoff” for who we are even more than what we say and do because we never know the impact, sometimes until much later. I shared that letter with my son, a veteran science teacher of over 25 years who is outstanding in many ways, and here is what he wrote back to me:

    “What a lovely letter. It is such an honor to be in a place of creating possibilities for students to recognize more of themselves, empowering their voices to speak up in support of truth seeking. I am amazed so often at the impact of the little things we do that are simply an expression of doing what is right. Nothing special, just the ordinary practice of being kind, of speaking out for justice, of sharing encouragement or offering understanding, celebrating courage or unique accomplishment – these simple ordinary acts can mean so much to someone when they happen to take place at just the right moment in just the right place. What a gift and privilege to be able to stand in that place over many years and keep up the care, keep conducting the Great Experiment in human learning and development. Thanks for sharing that marvelous expression of genuine gratitude and appreciation. It’s not why we do this work, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to get some acknowledgment every now and then that what we have done made a difference to someone.”
    I will write more about “The Big Payoff” not only to encourage people like you but to express my own gratitude for having been able to serve and lead for 50 years.
    Take care, be well, celebrate!
    Gary

    • And the “big payoff” for this blog is when I get comments like you’ve shared and that of so many on this post. I’ve literally been working like crazy since I wrote this yesterday and am so moved by this thought and the letter you received. I keep an at a girl folder with letters like this for the hard days. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  3. Vicki,
    First, you are amazing! Your dedication and your hard work is infectious. Second, you at human, fatal flaw in all of us who seek to do it all for what is good for students and education, as well as ourselves and our families.

    Give yourself permission to step back from the continuous need to produce for the audience, for what got you to this amazing place was the from the gut posts, not the I have to posts. But also know no matter what you share and when you share it, it will always be impactful for that is the essence of who you are.
    I’m feeling the same way and am nowhere near the space you are. But I’m taking a page from topics we are currently focusing on in education: mindset and mindfulness.
    Balance is key not productivity. Thank you for all you do!

    • Oh yes, Sharon — you may notice some of my blogging of late has been a little less. I shoot for 3 posts a week but do the best I can. I have found that when I struggle, if I can do it in a professional way, that it does help others. I also think it is a mistake to pretend that everything is perfect when this profession is so unbelievably hard. To be honest, I feel like this quite often in April and May – although perhaps not quite to this extent. I will make it. I just get tired — like all of us. And with so little control over my schedule, I just have to do what I have to do. Thanks for being encouraging.

  4. Vicki,

    Hang in there! I’ve been there too and things will open up. Also, your own level of reflection and your own writing of this post shows you are well on your way of sorting this situation out and finding how you can “cut and snip” to create a better place as a teacher. It’s a process, with ups and downs. Make some changes in time, don’t put too much on yourself. Keep going forward …..

    Good post to remind teachers but importantly other stakeholders in education, exactly how hard our job truly is.

    David

    • Thanks David. I’ve done quite a few things and been a general manager for quite a large operation. Nothing comes near to the struggle to teach. I do think others need to know. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Feeling like I want to quit for me comes on days when I think I am a horrible teacher. Those days when students don’t see to be able to “get it” and I know it must be my fault for teaching wrong. Yesterday was one such day. But I’m back trying again today. Maybe today I’ll get it right.

    • And you are SUCH an amazing educator. We all have those days! I think my struggle is just having to do it for sooooooo long without stopping. 8:11-2:11 with a tiny break is a bit taxing on this 40 something person. 😉 And yet, I’ll make it through. Thanks for always being so encouraging.

  6. I did quit this year for much of the same reasons. Not sure what I am doing next though., Teaching feels like a calling and it’s trying to pull me back. But I need a change. I know that. And I hope something comes up soon!

    Cheers, hang in there!

  7. Vicki –
    What an important fact to remember that it is OK to have doubts about the job that you do. I think that any job has its ups and downs, but teaching seems to carry more emotion with then other jobs where you may not be working with people as closely. When I have a day or two in a row where I feel like I messed something up or when I feel like I missed an opportunity to help a student find a ‘ah-hah’ moment, it can nag me and turn into self-doubt. It is always a good reminder that this is a normal part of our profession – all we can do is try to minimize the time that we are down and maximize the time that we are up!

    • 😉 What did the title scare you? 😉 It just came out as it is what I feel. But I will plug ahead. I don’t quit, I make decisions. I won’t be able to teach forever because I won’t live forever and there will be a time to do other things — but not yet. 😉

  8. A wonderful post, and one that goes to the heart of what we do. I want to be able to do more than put one foot in front of the other, though, I want to be able to run! I have seriously been thinking about leaving teaching after almost 25 years, as I feel that teachers, because of their commitment to their students are now being exploited by policies, leaders, etc to always fit ‘one more thing in’ to the detriment of what it is we do best: teaching. I do love teaching, but I worry about it being seen as a calling rather than as a profession. You are right, though, I will “find a way to soar”, even though my feet might be aching! Thanks for your thoughtful words, such wonderful encouragement.

    • It is a calling and a profession! I think it can be both!! We do have to find a way to soar. We can do this. Our attitude and expectations are such an important part of how we make it as teachers. Thanks for sharing, Anne.

  9. Thanks for this. Very much needed. This may help: we have 10 weeks left! Also, my car is usually the last in the lot in the late afternoon…once when I left “on time” with everyone else, it felt so strange! I felt like I was “ditching.” Everytime I get overwhelmed, and this is almost daily, I remember it’s all about the kids. Not the paperwork, the deadlines, the meetings. The kids. Good luck in the final stretch. I hope you have plenty of unplanned time for the summer. Just not having a schedule helps me. Freedom!

    • I am planning on having an easier summer than I’ve been doing for a while – as I work on my third book. It has been very long since I’ve given myself some time off, but I’ve decide to this summer — your words just echo what I’ve been thinking. I’ve always said that we heal in the summer we don’t “vacation”. 😉 Thank you for sharing, AdeB

  10. Thank you! You inspire me. You are very passionate about education. in today’s world we need more educator who are passionate. It is a wonderful feeling that there are others who feel the same way that I do. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Systems work at capacity, but it sounds like you’re maxed and need to dial back. Take your time during the day. You don’t need to be sprinting to be effective and it’s unrealistic of others to expect you to do it.

    • Oh, Chris, if it were that easy. If I could set my own schedule, it would be doable. I do follow the advice my granny gave me “sometimes you gotta let the rough end drag.” I work so hard to focus on what is important and let go the things that aren’t. It is very hard when you deal with such things and, certainly, I have to at this point deal with the hand I’m dealt. I have no control over the cards, only in how I play the ones in my hand. As for me, I choose excellence but also to be kind to myself. I do my best but I will never settle for less than that. Great thoughts and truthfully, if you study highways, you find that they flow at about 60% capacity. OVer that and they clog. The same with most of us!

  12. Whew! Did I need this today! We have three weeks left in the semester and, of course, everyone is asking how they can improve their grade – not to mention I have to grade a ton of projects and then finals.

    My morning dog walks do me wonders, but the things pounding on me every day – budget, budget and, well, budget, make me feel like I’m dragging a ball and chain. But—then a student walks by and tells me how much they enjoyed my class this semester and have recommended my class to others – okay, I’m gonna make it.

    Thanks for putting into words what we all feel at this time of year.

    -Chris

    • Oh, Chris, I’m dealing with budget too. It is just stressful. I think that there are a mix of responses on this — those who think there is something wrong with me for being stressed and those who just get that stress is part of teaching. The end of the school year is tough! You’ll make it and I will too. Won’t be easy but we’ll get there. Keep plugging, Chris and thanks for taking time ot comment!

  13. Hi CoolCatTeacher,

    I think you have come to my other blog before (awellofideas.blogspot.com) and graciously commented. I would appreciate it if you visited my new one — I have provided the link.

    I really like how personal this post is.. I am not a full time teacher (that is more because of the job market than my choice). I can understand that full-time teaching — and writing, as you do — can be difficult to balance! I rarely post on my blog, and I have a novel I’m working on.. and I don’t even TEACH full time. I commend you for the work that you do. You have managed not only to maintain a successful classroom but also to maintain a (very) successful education blog!

    • Thanks — I am blessed with many people who read my blog and listen to my show. I’m grateful for my PLN and learn far more from others than they likely learn from me. Good luck with your writing (I have a novel too!) It is a challenge to balance at any time of the year, but April and May, it is quite a bit. Thanks for commenting!

  14. I understand the weight of those last few weeks. Take heart in knowing that while you have 5-6 weeks left, Canadian teachers will be going until the 30th of June. Have a beer for us when you finish at the start of June.

    • Yes, Verna. It is funny, we all go through this. We start back in mid August. This past year we started the first WEEK of August. Either way, the last few weeks are tough for every teacher. It seems to be a constant of our profession — the struggle to end well. Thanks for being kind. I’m resting this weekend and writing on my book about working to be a great teacher. Thanks for taking time to be encouraging! I’ll be heading up there to Saskatchewan next week and am excited about spending time in your BEAUTIFUL country.

  15. Vicki,

    I’ve read your blog and followed you on Twitter for years. I’ve wanted to quit teaching every day; I’m in the classroom from 7 to 5, sometimes 6 or 8pm when I do after school programs. It was stressful, but it was your Level Up posts that inspired and motivated me to keep going and to push myself to become a better teacher. Your professionalism and productivity were things I tried to recreate in my teaching life. Thank you. Keep doing what you need to do for yourself. Everything will be okay. You will get through this!

    Cheska

    • Wow, Cheska. Thank you so much for saying this. It confirms that writing through the struggle, if it can be done without private information sneaking through, is the right thing to do. I’m so glad that this is encouraging!

  16. You are not alone! We are here to support you as well. Taking it one minute at a time is great-I do that myself. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to put as much passion into YOU as put into your job. It is ok to step back and breathe.

  17. Your answer today simply floored me. I finally found your words expressed what I’m feeling. This has been the most challenging year in 22 years and I’m more than exhausted. I’m known at work as the “energizer bunny” but even my batteries are worn out. I have not words. I wondered if I could go on. I wondered if I should switch to teaching college courses. I’ve wondered ways I can get out. Yet, I knew deep down that what I was doing was making a difference. I know this is what I’m good at and I believe it’s not my time. Your article helped me think that quite possibly I’ll make it and not only that, I might make it another year. You didn’t give a bunch of advice, tell me how to do my job better, or tell me how to work more efficiently. Instead, you understood and gave me the thing I needed most, hope. Thanks for that. No conferences, professional development or even pat on the back could accomplish such a thing. Tomorrow I will take it one hour at a time and I’ll do something right. I won’t do everything right, but that’s okay. My students will learn. They will be better people and I’ll know I accomplished it even if no one notices. Keep it up. I’m a believer you have a gift to share in social media. Keep it up.

    • Wow, Kathy. This comment is going in my “at-a-girl” folder for the tough days when I wonder why I do what I do. Yours and all the other comments have been so touching and unique. I think that as people read this post and read the comments, they may have better insight to the struggle we have with our own self-talk to stay going. I’m still one foot in front of the other. Although I have said I’m returning next year, right now I don’t know how. I’m tired and just focusing on right now. When we get this way it is really the only thing we can do. Thanks for being awesome and writing one of the nicest things anyone has ever written to me. I do feel called to social media and to teachers. Thanks for so kindly confirming that call!

  18. I wonder whether valorizing the heroic has become our Pavlovian response. Maybe quitting is the best option. Maybe if more teachers quit in protest, change might come. Or perhaps our heroic action props up a system that ends up doing more harm than good. Are you whistling in the dark here?

    • Terry, more teachers ARE quitting in protest. It is happening everywhere. There are times when it is time to leave your profession or change jobs — totally. But to me, quitting in the heat of the moment is not how adults make decisions. When I leave, I will know it is time. Right now, I’m having to stay despite the upsetness I feel because I know it is not time yet. Perhaps I am whistling in the dark, however dark, though, I am called to be a light and to this profession. I will leave the classroom when it is time but not before. I cannot let the fact it is hard and tough make me quit. Even my own ego must sometimes be sacrificed to the good of doing the right thing. There are many teachers who choose to bear injustice rather than quit. It is easy to say … everyone quit but we have children at stake here. In the end, someone will teach them and in my opinion, the best teachers are needed more than ever. I totally get what you’re saying and many readers will feel they have no choice but quitting. I’ve totally been in both places. I get it. Nothing easy either way, each person has to make this decision for themselves.

  19. Hi Vicki,

    This post really hits home. I love teaching and am a different person in a class of children. But I could not handle the external pressures and found myself with no time for self or family. I started blogs which collapsed very quickly! I did not quit but took a job with easier timings and in Learning Support. So I’m learning new skills and trying to decide whether to get back to full time teaching or not.

    Miriam @tchrmiriam

    • We each have to fulfill our calling. The kids are not ever what makes most of us quit – it is those external pressures you mention. It is a struggle for balance. Good luck finding your calling. The children need us!

  20. Your article hit home with me. I understand completely your exhaustion. This time of year, I am always tired but lately it’s been more than that. It has been bone-weary, hard to get upon the mornings, wanting to just walk away tired. I know I make a difference, but it gets foggy and hard to see amongst the discipline issues, the apathy of students that seems to grow more each year, the lack of parent support. The ones that make it worth going in to work get fewer and fewer every year, but they are the ones who matter and it is their bright shining light that keeps me moving forward. It is hard not to quit, but it is harder to walk away.

    • Stick with it Cynthia! Work to level up and be epic. It is so hard. I totally get you. I am still sitting on my contract right now waiting for a few things to become more clear about next year. Such a hard thing. I love teaching and the kids. Oh, how tough this whole thing is! Thanks for being transparent on your journey as well.

  21. Thanks for the virtual hug! You hit the nail on the head in this post, and I appreciate your honesty. You kind of made my day, though I’m sorry you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and low. You are awesome and inspiring, even when you might think otherwise.

  22. Nice,true, reflection on some of the frustrations of teaching. I’m finishing year 23 teaching in public schools, and I also love teaching, but each year seems a little more difficult. I describe the demands of teaching like a treadmill. Each year they increase the speed, and raise the incline. However, in the end I’m a teacher that loves helping children find their way in life and will continue to try to make a positive impact at my school. I did take one year off after year 1 and it really helped re energize me when I returned to teaching.

  23. Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂 I am currently on a dilemma of quitting my job now. I felt I am no longer effective being a teacher. Teaching, grading, lesson planning, dealing with with large class of different behavior consume my energy and time. I am no longer happy. No longer motivated. I don’t know….

  24. I feel the same way. I have 6 years until I retire and I wonder how I am going to make it. I decided to take it one moment at a time and not worry about the rest. I am also reading the book Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. So far this year, this thought process is helping.

  25. Thank you for this. This is just what I need to hear. I’ll try to be honest without being corny.. but the last part brought me to tears. I just feel so down today.. And taking on a new role as a teacher in primary years after being in kindergarten for so long, sometimes I wonder if all my hard work will just go unnoticed.. Especially when a parent yells at you and tells you that you don’t know how to do your job. It leaves no room for hope sometimes… And to add to that, a management that yields to parents’ every whim. It’s tough, what we teachers do. And you are right. Nobody is perfect. I know that. And this post helped me feel better by a mile. Thank you. For years I have received compliments for my job as a kindergarten teacher, but now that I am in primary, it is the first time that I am getting a violent feedback from a parent. I am not the best person when it comes to confrontations. I do not know how to handle them. And today was just the worst day of all.. But I’d like to thank you. You said everything I needed to hear.

    I wish you all the best.

    • Marie — my sister always tells me that when I write through the horrible days and can help others, that it make the horrible days worth it. I lived through it. You will too. But I agree with you, there is nothing so heart breaking as being misunderstood and verbally assaulted by a parent. There should be mutual respect but many parents – while an expert in their child – might not be an expert on what their child is actually doing in a classroom. Thanks for leaving this comment. I appreciate it more than you know!

  26. I think this will be my last year teaching. I would like to keep on going but I just can’t. I’m totally spent. I do smile during the day – the kids are cute, but I’m just too tired to keep this crazy pace and it’s affecting my health and my relationships outside of school. It’s so sad because I know teaching doesn’t have to be this way. The political climate is what is messing schools up but the public doesn’t see it. They just dump on teachers and it’s just too hard to keep going. Yes, teaching is a noble profession and bless those who do it. Perhaps, now more than ever, the world needs great teachers.

    • I am so sorry Betty. It is hard. Many reach a point where they can’t keep going. I hope if you retire that you will speak out about specifics. We can’t go quietly into the night but need to speak out.

  27. Because the job is not sustainable. I hear you. Maybe, just maybe, you should actually take a year out of teaching? I just have, to do my Masters. Stepping off the treadmill, and thinking about the reality of teaching full time I question if I want to keep doing it to myself. I love it. But is it sustainable? Where is the balance? And we are not “special” or better than other teachers, we are in fact easily replaced. Teaching six hours straight day after day – really how sustainable is that? Get out, step right out, and you will return refreshed when you are ready or you might simply not return (which is ok too).

    • I wrote this last year. I stayed and I’m so glad I did. I think that these are normal feelings that most teachers have. In the end, right now I’m teaching my own son, and for me that is enough motivation to overcome just about anything! Thanks for these comments because certainly, that is an answer for some teachers. Although, because so many teachers feel this way, I hope it is not the answer for all teachers because we’d lose so many more and are already hemmoraghing great teachers and need to keep the great ones!

  28. We have to remember we can’t be great at everything! In teaching there are so many different things we are dealing with such as the students, parents, administrators and board. Then we have the lessons and planning. We also now have all the paperwork such as report cards, grading papers, SLO, keeping up with our credits for license renewal, meetings on a weekly basis, ect….. Not many jobs out there have this many requirements.
    I don’t know about you but I use the weekends and other days off to try and get my head above water. I do not have my summers off. I am very dedicated to my class so they are my first priority.
    I so can relate to everything you said! Continue to work through each day at a time.

      • Yes, and it’s not just one day at a time but often one person at a time, whether one student, one (or two) parents, one colleague, one administrator, one friend, one child, and so on. And that’s how we often do our best work. Then there are small groups when we are part of a team or a larger group and we know where and how we can make a contribution. All these parts working together for the common good with your amazing gifts to help everyone move forward. Thank you for all that you do, every day.

  29. Vicki! Hold on there, girl! I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from, and I totally get the intensity of the work. Forests and trees…remember? Step the heck back. Take care of yourself! Exercise? How about a day off? I am a teacher of 30+ years. Last year, I made the decision to step, not walk or run–away. But I felt the same way you did a THOUSAND times, I swear! My love of kids and community and that high I got when those lightbulbs went on, those are the things I never wanted to give up. Recently, I reread my journal from last year. I even went back further and traced my steps. It was time. I was still on an uphill curve, learning with the kids and my colleagues, and passionate about my work. Opportunities found me, and now I work in support of teachers, providing training in writing workshop (I was in GA just two weeks ago!). I live in their space, but don’t have their jobs. No emails, no grades, no correcting, now doesn’t that sound so good? But…I’d promised myself years ago, that teaching had a shelf life, and no matter how long I loved it, I would only stay as long as I was at the top of my game. And now, I’m so glad I chose to live it that way. Legacy is important. And I think I was able to leave a legacy of learning and exploration with a lot of love and a lot of fun! You have so much to offer, I can tell. But be sure to pace and nurture, savor and laugh hard and well. It’s a long-haul job that leaves you with a lifetime of stories and a heart filled with satisfaction–because you know you’ve done it well! (And believe me, when you close that door for the last time, it will definitely break your heart, like it broke mine!)

      • Beautifully written, Gale.
        I will keep in mind a mental image of myself closing my classeroom door for the last time (3 years from now), hopefully telling myself that I have done it well. Exhausted by both my personal life (worried for my Mom – health issues) and task load at school, I wonder if I’ll be able to hang in until then….but I’ll try….I will….one day at a time, one step foward at a time.

  30. I’ve only been blogging a few months. One of the first posts I wrote dealt with the inadequacies I feel as a teacher. It is the one post teachers I know mention to me when I run into them somewhere. People always tell me it made them feel so much better to know other teachers feel the same way.
    Teaching is such a difficult job, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I tell myself to keep striving to be the impossibly perfect teacher, but forgive myself when I miss the mark.