Time for Spring Break, Time to Write

My sleeping cat, Bellatrix, looking like I feel

I’m tired.

I think I’m ready for a break. Our spring break starts in a week. My students have been wonderful. Today, for instance, my AP Literature students presented poems through a variety of analytical lenses. They did a nice job, and in our debrief, they said that looking at the poems in this way was helpful in understanding them and also that it helped them think about others’ viewpoints and interpretations. Only one of my American Literature classes met today, but we read and discussed The Crucible. The students were particularly engaged today.

I am feeling tired, though. In some ways frustrated, too. I have a strong perfectionist streak, and as much as I wish I didn’t, I tend to internalize too many things that are out of my control. It would be nice if I were the type of person who could let that sort of thing go. Some people seem so supremely confident that they are absolutely right all the time, and I guess a lot of people would call that “arrogance.” I don’t really disagree. I think it is arrogant to feel like you are always right and others are always wrong and to refuse to see another person’s side. At the same time, sometimes I wish I had a little bit of arrogance.

In some ways, I feel very confident. In others, I second-guess myself in some pretty self-destructive ways. I’m not sure I’d be me if I didn’t have a generous helping of self-doubt, but I also admit I wish it were easier for me to set aside self-doubt when I know it’s not helping me. Sometimes, it actually does help me because I can catch myself before I make mistakes. It’s also part of being fairly reflective. I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Most of the time, I think I do a pretty good job, and my intentions are certainly good. Today, though, was one of those days I allowed myself to be frustrated over a negative situation over which I don’t have a lot of control at the expense of celebrating the learning my students were displaying and some other pretty awesome things that are happening.

I’m about to say something that is probably obvious, but I actually feel a bit better getting this out. I have always thought through things on paper much better than through talking. Talking about this situation today really didn’t help and actually made me feel worse. Writing about it here helped me get some perspective. I can actually feel it leaving my shoulders.

I’ve been trying to keep a journal on mornings when I have time and space to write so that I can reflect on what I need to do and prepare for the day. I don’t write every day, and I decided I can’t give myself one more thing to be frustrated over, so I write when I feel like I can. This practice is actually helpful when I can do it, however, and perhaps what I really need to do is prioritize more time for writing so I can think. Perhaps it will help me with perspective.

Of course, yoga wouldn’t hurt either.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

10 thoughts on “Time for Spring Break, Time to Write”

  1. I can completely relate to your story and it is comforting to know I’m not alone. I hope it comforts you to know that others have similar struggles and find writing to be the thing that helps. Hang in there!

  2. I wish we could sit and have lunch and share our similar stories. Would that help? That self-doubt seems so pointless, but sometimes it can be very consuming. Every time someone suggests I read something PD related this year I jump to the conclusion that it is because my teaching sucks! Such a silly thing to obsess over. Like you, I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but that is hard. 🙂

  3. Ditto! I had a chat w/ a young colleague about similar issues earlier this week. She’s having to deal w/ the fallout from her students having had a different teacher last trimester and doesn’t feel sh is in the position to say anything.

    1. Glenda, I bet you could guess in one go what’s bugging me, and at some point I really need to figure out how to make peace with the problem.

  4. I have taken up walking aimlessly in the forest or along the sea and then writing. It keeps me grounded and helps me to process rough spots. It is not always easy. You are not alone.

  5. Dana,
    Thanks for sharing your “tough” day. I feel like I could have written this post myself. In fact, I think I may already have done that. LOL! I think that when these feelings start to take over, we need to take a step back and look at our students. Remember why we are in the classroom in the first place. Take some deep breaths and, yes, yoga is always good. The self-doubt that you mention I am starting to call “reflection”. It’s what all effective, committed teachers do. It sounds like that’s what you are.

    1. Thanks, Elisa. In actuality, it was one issue in an otherwise good day. I need to stop worrying about the issue. The person at the center of it certainly doesn’t worry about me!

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