You see them in the hallway, in the office supplies aisle at the store, and sometimes sitting at the light long after it turns green. They have that same sleepy look on their faces. They look tired and unaware like you could run up and take their lanyard before they could even react to you coming.
They are the late winter teacher.
They aren’t unhappy. They aren’t (necessarily) ready to retire or leave the profession. They’re just a little worn down. The joy of holiday season is gone and the end of the year is guarded by a fierce and annoying seasonal monster that wields standardized testing as his weapon. Getting to June can seem like an insurmountable mountain to climb.
Chances are that you and every other teacher understands this feeling. You’ve either felt that way personally or know someone who has. In conversations with your colleagues you might even refer to your “friend” from another district who is wondering if they want to keep teaching at all.
The cold, hard truth is that teaching can be a draining profession. It has dizzying highs and lows, and days where, well, the ride home is well-deserved. There is a lot of pressure, and frankly, I’d question a teacher that doesn’t feel worn down at times. It is an important job, and feeling that weight is a result of your doing something important.
Strategies to Improve the Late Winter Inspiration Gap
- Sometimes you just need to take a step back and remember why you do it. Make a list of the positive impacts you have had on your students, on the school, and on your community. Impacts. Plural.
- Meet with a colleague over coffee. Talk about the good stuff. Share a laugh.Then commit to taking one idea from your colleague and using it in your classroom.
- Chances are if you are worn out, you feel uninspired. Do things that bring that fire back in your eyes. Sometimes just doing something new outside your normal day-to-day (even outside your classroom) can reignite your spark.
You’ve been through this before, and unfortunately, you may go through it again year after year. Remember more than anything, that you have an entire community of educators, both on your campus and globally, that know how you feel.