After all these years in education, what can you say?

Sometimes the bad things that happen in (1)
Educators aren’t immune to seeing greener grass elsewhere. It often feels like other people have it together. Maybe it’s that he can get anyone to behave in his classroom. Maybe it’s that she’s a master at this or that. Maybe it’s that she can get her grading done and manage to both see her family and sleep at night.

For many of us, this situation is complicated by rumors that float throughout the education community (things like “Year X will be when it gets easier” and other generalized half-truths).

On the way to school yesterday I heard a song by Andrew Peterson (@AndrewPeterson) that included these lines:

After all this time
I thought that the rhythms and the rhymes
Would come so easy
But it’s still so hard
It’s the same twelve notes, six strings,
And a million little mysteries
And one broken heart

As I listened to him sing these words about his expectations for himself, I began to realize that educators must feel the same way. There are only so many variables. I have my room, the skills I need to teach, and a group of students to teach. Sure, there are many variables, but the basics are the same, year in and year out.

You would think that it would get a lot easier, right? That it would be automatic.

I’m sure many educators let this roll off them without much thought. But I bet there are more than you’d think who are wondering if they are the only ones who haven’t figured it all out yet. Surely there are many thinking: Is it just me who hasn’t figured out how to make this easier?

All that got me wondering how educators would finish this statement: “After all this time…”

Would they say they still don’t sleep well before the first day of school? Would they say they’re still hopeful that this group of students will be the best they’ve ever had? Would they say they’re still having trouble balancing what they can give to their students with what they can give to their families? Would they say they’ve been given more than they could ever give back?

Here’s what I’d say after all my years in education (which, I know, is only 7, but I’m still phrasing this in these terms…):

After all these years in education
I’d think the lessons and the time would come so easy,
but some days it’s still so hard.
It’s the same struggles to help our kids succeed
and the same efforts to provide them what they need,
and, at times, it seems it takes more than I’ve got.
Though some days are tough and it seems easy to give up,
in hindsight,
no days serving students are a waste.

The reality is that our work as educators is tough. We do a great job of being positive in all sorts of different ways, and we have to keep that up. I think there’s room for us to be authentic about the struggles that come along with educating students without us being complainers, and I hope to open up some of that conversation with this invitation:

After all these years in education, what can you say? (tweet this)

3 Replies to “After all these years in education, what can you say?”

  1. After all these 24 years in education, I can say I love that every day is different. That is what is great about the job; ever changing faces, ideas, situations, roles… Who wants to do the same thing every week, every year? Not me.

    1. After all these years (38years) I love every day I teach. I love the fact that each day is different and never the same. I love the way the children respond in amazing ways and I love finding new ways to challenge my children and still help them enjoy what they do.

  2. When I was in the military the President would send out these messages periodically, usually around national holidays. He would commend us on our dedication, diligence, and honorable service. Someone in authority, for me this would usually be the chief petty officer of a division, would read then post the missive. Then we’d get back to the business of defending our country.

    I’m on my third career, the other two being electronics technician in high technology manufacturing for the likes of Intel and instructional design. The leaders of the organizations I’ve worked for produced their own versions of the President’s pep talks to the troops. That’s what they’re meant to do: remind us of the importance of what we do and thank us for continuing to do it faithfully.

    In the end it’s up to us to energize ourselves. When I value what I do it’s easy. At other times, it’s a tedious chore. In either event I have to dig deep for motivation to keep at it, doing the best and being the best that I can be.

    As I read your post memories of these and other things flashed through me. I think, after having been in the workforce for a bit over 40 years, that every job has its challenges. The ones I think of as easy, though they appear arduous to others observing me, were easy because I loved what I did. The difficult jobs I’ve had were difficult because my heart (soul?) wasn’t into it all that much; these I had to take to keep food on the table and a roof over my family’s heads.

    If you put your heart and soul into a job that you love you’ll enjoy what you do and the perception that it’s tough will fall away.

    Anyway, two cents from an old salt.

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