Monday, 3 November 2014

Yi Can't Even

I feel like I’m nearing the end of my rope. I should be marking papers right now, as lord knows marks are due Friday morning and probably the only way I’ll have everything done is to put in a minimum of 50 hours of work this week, so I should damn well start, but I can’t even. So, hey, I’ll blog, because it sort of makes me happy. I’ll even publish, in the chance it could be of benefit to other teachers (or sociologists) in some way, shape or form.

Historical Context: I used to see professionals for depression back in University, then again after moving to a new city, which was shortly after becoming a teacher. In both cases it wasn’t related to teaching, but in retrospect, perhaps it’s amazing I’ve now beenso long without needing to talk to anyone in a professional capacity. I am presently on a waiting list and I have support systems in place. So don’t panic about me. Yet.

With that said, here’s a list of the reasons that I can’t even.

a) I feel like my I’ve botched things with respect to my grand plans for seating this year. The randomizing is now spastic at best, disregarded at worst, and I don’t have the energy to restart with a new system. Physically, mentally, I’ve got nothing left. But I hate that I’ve given up.

b) I feel like the students who are presently being successful would be just as good with another teacher, and that the students who are not being successful would be better served by another teacher. And the more down I feel, the easier that is to believe, because I’m obviously not at the top of my game.

c) I feel like so many more students need extra help than those that actually come; at the same time, I know I can’t help everyone, and I hate that too. I also don’t like that we’re reaching a point where I may have to step away myself, possibly right when people need me. (That’s a large part of why I’m doing what I can to check in with myself, and why I’m actually writing this post rather than staring aimlessly at the ceiling. Come to think, I’m trying to help myself more to avoid letting others down, than for me.)

d) I feel like so few are actually doing any math work outside of class. (In one class they even asked me to check homework, for greater accountability.) I feel like it’s not because they don’t care, but because they don’t see the need, and they’re wrong, they’re so wrong, and it’s on me for not making them realize how important it is to practice constantly - not just before a test. Or if it’s because they don’t care... why am I unable to inspire caring? Why can’t I fix that?

e) I feel unable to keep one step ahead, despite how I need to be two steps ahead for certain IEP (Individualized Education Plan) students. Because it feels like everything is going to change by the end of the day anyway. (Because people won’t be there, or won’t have practiced, or won’t understand.)

f) I feel like the entire education system is becoming a vehicle for field trips, and extra-curriculars, and personally excused absences - which wouldn’t be so bad if learning content was still a part of it, but that’s only a priority right before a test. Students can’t learn through exploration if they’re NOT THERE to explore; they have to be told on the next day (that they’re present). Going back over things because half the class was absent and another quarter weren’t paying attention is getting tiring. Worse, it’s making the math less fun for me, which scares me.

g) I feel like I can’t do anything for myself, because it only leads to guilt over not doing what I need to do at work. (The exception to this being my serial, because that’s something I enjoy that I’ve committed to.) I haven’t written up my last AMV post here. Or my summary of CanCon, now a month old. Nor have I been able to read the serials of others. I have song parodies in my head I cannot work on. So not only is my teaching below par, so are my hobbies. I think there’s a snake eating it’s own tail here.

h) I feel like society as a whole doesn’t care about teachers. (Thanks TIME magazine!) I’m currently teaching under a provincial contract that ran out at the end of August. Granted, two years ago when that happened the Ontario Government exacted legislation forcing us back to work (even though we were already going to work), turning public opinion against us. They haven’t done anything so monumentally stupid this time. But I’ve seen what happened out in British Columbia. With a liberal government, no less. There are negotiation issues that float through my head periodically.

Basically, I feel tired. Not tired in the sense that I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, tired in the sense that if I’m just going through the motions, in the end, what’s the point. In that vein, excuse me in advance if I don’t jump to respond to any comments that might come up. But if you see something I’m missing here, feel free to speak up. Similarly, if you think posting this in public is a really BAD idea, advise me.

Final note: On the off chance you think it’s relevant, I’m listed as teaching for 7 years. My first year teaching was at a private school (doesn’t count for seniority), I did substitute teaching for 3 years (doesn’t count for seniority), then I got part-time work (doesn’t count as a full year of teaching)... so if you want to get technical, I’ve been doing the teaching thing for over 10 years now. Maybe I’ve simply hit a wall. But even there, is this wall is one of my own design, or not?


  1. First, here's hoping your wait isn't too long.

    You've hit a wall, yes. Some of it may be yours, but not all. Over the past decade, minimum, a lot more has been placed on the shoulders of teachers without adding the resources teachers need to handle the new load. At some point, something has to give, and you're trying to make sure that it isn't the students. People, including teachers, need down time, time not working, and you're not getting any of that personal time. Sixty hour work weeks are draining; I don't want to imagine how it's like having a week where every waking hour is spent working.

    As for BC, the party in power is nominally the Liberal Party. It has more in common with Tim Hudak than with the Ontario Liberals. Don't worry about ideas from the BC "Liberals" being ported to Ontario, at least via the Liberal Party here.

    Good luck. If you need a friendly face, I'm around.

    1. Supposed to see someone before the end of the year. My psyche has also evened out a bit more over the past week.
      There's an interesting point there - more requirements or responsibility being placed on teachers. Certainly the evaluation system (levels) is one item, and the way bargaining is done (it used to be regional, now it's at least partly provincial too), and fundraising (we can no longer charge for course materials, or include substitute teacher fees in field trips), but I wonder how much other stuff I simply accept as "part of the job"... when it wasn't always like that. I've already kind of accepted that I haven't had "down time" in over two years, because the only non-marking-papers break is summer, which is when I'm scrambling to complete other projects I didn't have time for from Sept-June. (I seriously need to fix my kitchen tap next July, it's driving me crazy.)
      It's not so much worrying about the ideas coming over as the overall atmosphere. Ah well. Thanks for being around, appreciate it.