Wednesday Thoughts: On Teacher Guilt

I can’t help myself. I feel terrible, conflicted. Guilty. Perhaps not for the reasons you might think, though.

Oh, there are ALL the reasons why teachers like me feel pushed and pulled across the emotional spectrum. Just look at the world around us. We’re crouched right at the center of societal conflict: COVID. Race. Gender. Safety. Freedom. Obligation. Add to that the twin pressures of bringing healing to our students and moving ahead in a business-as-usual fashion. Test scores, as you may know, never sleep.

Find me a teacher who is doing the job they signed up for.

Heck. Find me ANYONE who is doing the job they signed up for.

I’ll wait.

I look at my colleagues, both in my district and beyond. So much struggle and difficulty.

Which is where the guilt comes in.

Right now, I love my students.
I love my job.
I’m excited to teach.
My kids bring me energy in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.
We’re doing some cool stuff.
Sometimes, I just look at them working and interacting.
And I beam.
My heart swells, crackles. Cracks open.
These kids bring me wonder, astonishment.
Joy.

I’m eager for the day when we’re all breathing in this air once more, when all of us sigh at the end of the day – not with exhaustion and disappointment, but satisfaction, contentment. Joy.

We. All. Deserve. More. JOY.

Until then, I will use these days, these bright moments to fuel me for the times when discouragement and stress threaten to overtake me. I will hope beyond hope that my colleagues will collect moments of light, like sticky notes, to take and fashion into something beautiful, hopeful.

Joyous.

Post-script: realizing that both of my posts this week have been tied to the theme of light. Sometimes metaphor pulls our strings without us even noticing. Touche, Chanukah. Touche.

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

5 thoughts on “Wednesday Thoughts: On Teacher Guilt

  1. Dearest Lainie,

    (sigh)…

    Your post touches my heart in the most personal of ways. Firstly, I love your cadence. Though undoubtedly written with nuances of angst and earnest, it is still so beautifully lyrical, punctuated with framing that makes the heart flutter.

    I felt a twinge of angst of my own as I’ve been mulling over a task with which I’m assigned in the coming year – closing keynote at a state literacy conference – and I keep asking myself, “What on earth am I going to say to these teachers.”

    I’ve thought about the traditional pick me-ups, but few (if any) seem helpful – because I know they’ve experienced the exhaustion, disappointment, (and might I add?) anxiety, frustration, confusion, and…

    Well, I think, I’ll stop there.

    That being said, I draw encouragement and hope from your post. I am revisiting in my head areas on which I can focus – that espouse encouragement, a most reverent applause, and the hope that beyond the darkness of constant dilemmas exists a light that will shine brightly on the many milestones they’ve made in the most difficult of times.

    You are right. There is such wonderment in the resilience of our students. How fortunate we are that their inspiration remains a constant when it seems chaos would otherwise reign supreme. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Your light shines all the way to Colorado.

    With Warmest Regards,

    ~Carla Michelle

    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words, Carla. First of all, I’m interested and eager to know where your head and heart lead you in terms of that keynote address. Knowing you, I have every bit of faith that your sincerity and strongly-held principles will carry the day.

      I hope you’ll let me know how it all goes!

      1. Lainie, it is always my pleasure.

        Regarding this address, I always like to make sure to center on the theme. Theirs is: A Decade of Literacy, Service and Advocacy.”

        In its early stages, I know that I want to begin with having them give themselves a round of applause – as a room full of champions and unsung heroes.

        From there, I want to focus on: character, camaraderie and compassion – but stemming from the etymological perspectives of each word.

        I believe that teachers who are surviving and/or thriving during this pandemic era have demonstrated character that distinguishes them in unique ways.

        The camaraderie they’ve displayed with educators everywhere links them with a bond that spans confusion to clarity.

        Their ability to display compassion amidst the chaos set before them is a testament to their commitment to children, communities and the profession.

        In that vein, they are the embodiment of literacy, service and advocacy – and it is my hope that they will celebrate their achievements against the odds, continue to persevere, and be ever reminded that the far reaching impact of their efforts is still transforming lives in ways that they can’t begin to imagine…

        Or something along those lines!

        #fingerscrossed #workinprogress

        ~Carla Michelle

      2. It sounds like you’ve given these ideas a LOT of thought, Carla. I think the one part of that title that resonates with me is “advocacy.” It’s a theme I find myself coming back to in all sorts of forms.
        #NoNeedForCrossedFingers #YouAreGonnaBeAmazing

      3. Thank you for your kind encouragement, Lainie! I’m most appreciative of your inquiry as you helped me better define what consisted of foggy ideas.

        I think educators are advocates by nature. I can definitely see how it comes to you naturally!

        Your encouragement is most comforting. I will hold that close to my heart for the big day!

        With Warmest Regards,

        ~Carla Michelle

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