Teaching is the hardest job in the world. I'm not kidding. I'm utterly and completely exhausted as I sit here blogging and it's only Monday. And I got an extra hour over the weekend when the time changed.
Teaching is hard because you have twenty-some little ones that count on you every second of the day to meet their needs. Academic, social, emotional. They can be very needy. They cry sometimes. They get sick. They are scared and fragile. They are curious and rebellious. They are naughty and nice. There is not one minute of the day that a teacher can not be "on".
I dragged myself into my classroom this morning and, after dumping my school bag, purse, and lunch in my room, immediately headed over to my teacher friend's room across the hall. My reason was two-fold. One, she has coffee. And two, I knew she would listen to me. In part because she would be trapped in her classroom if I stood blocking the doorway.
She mirrored my look of exhaustion and nodded as I began my tirade. About how much I had to do. About how much I did over the weekend. About all the things in the upcoming weeks ahead. Wah. Wah. Lucky for me, she is a good listener and understands the job - we've both been teachers for many years.
"It's unrealistic and impossible to sustain our level of involvement and energy and work, day in and day out, year in an year out," she offered, no doubt trying to calm me down a bit and get me to leave her room so she could finish up all of her own work. "Impossible," she added again for emphasis, even pausing for a minute from her grading to show her seriousness.
You see, it's like that when you talk to a teacher. We are so unbelievably busy every single second of the day, that when we do talk to one another, we are also undoubtedly doing some sort of paperwork or planning at the same time. If we somehow manage to get a few extra seconds in our day, we either use the bathroom or scrounge up something to eat that does not contain 48 g of sugar. Time is of the essence.
"You're right!" I exclaimed, feeling a bit better. And I headed to my room to attempt to get through sixteen hours of preparation, grading, and work in sixty minutes.
On the positive side, the days fly by! Teaching certainly isn't a job where you are ever sitting around bored or watching the clock. Although I'll admit, there are times I watch the second hand waiting for the bell to ring for recess! My Nike fuel band registers at least 4,500 points a day with, on average, 13,000 steps. I think those numbers rival the spinning instructors at my gym. And I'm not even trying.
It's a workout, mentally and physically. And on days like today, emotionally. These occasional days when I feel like I just.can't.go.on.another.day.
Which brings me to my point. Although teaching is by far the hardest job in the world, it also holds some one-of-a kind job moments. And on days like today, it's those moments that revive us and sustain us. I tried my best to be happy and positive, even when there were many times during the day today that I wanted to just sit in my chair and put my head on my (very cluttered) desk. But, like the Energizer Bunny, teachers keep going and going and going and going. We have to.
And then it happened. At the end of the day, three darling little girls approached me giggling and smiling.
"Mrs. Jeppson?" they giggled holding a folded up bunch of papers between them. At this point, all the other girls in my class joined them.
"Hmmmm?" I replied. Honestly I was just hanging on for the bell. I wanted to be home and finish up my pity party in peace. I knew I would be better tomorrow.
"We made this for you!" they squealed, unfolding a banner that read M R S . J E P P S O N
Each of my girls had made a beautiful, colorful letter on a piece of paper, and they had taped them together in a gorgeous display. There were swirls and hearts and stripes.
Several leaned in for a hug.
"Do you like it?" they asked, hopeful little eyes looking up at me.
"No, I don't like it," I started. And in a split second their eyes changed and stopped twinkling. "I don't like it because I LOVE it!" I finished. "I am going to put it up right over the door so I see it every time I walk out of the room."
The bell rang and they all bounded out the door as I dragged a chair over to put up my banner before I went home. My sunshine on this dreary Monday.
And suddenly everything seemed better.