Tiny Humans, Huge Guilt

Here it comes.  It was a little late this year.  Usually this happens right around the second week of August, as summer is getting over.  I get a milder case in January/February, if we don’t have enough snow days for my liking.  This year it waited until October (barely) to infect me, so maybe I’ll be safe through the winter.

What is this mystery disease?

It’s the I-don’t-wanna-be-a-teacher-fluenza.  🙂

And I’ve somewhat figured it out.  For the first few years, it was the lingering regret over leaving my music major behind all those years ago.  Amazing how long something like that can affect a person.  And that regret still shows up with piercing sharpness sometimes.  But I’ve decided that God did not give me to the world as a gift of musical talent.  (Sense the sarcastic, self-depricating tone!  This wasn’t, like, a huge revelation!)  I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with this idea, but I think God gave me musical ability and enjoyment as a gift for me.  Because really, it’s so wonderful, He would be so generous?  The passion and wonder that I experience in this little element of life is so incredible, and I’m just, you know, me.  All that passion, just for me to enjoy?  But yes, of course He would be so generous.

{Does anyone remember when Phoebe asked Ross if he would rather give up sex or dinosaurs?  And Monica if she would give up sex or food?  You know what…never mind…}  😛

BUT this is about SCHOOL.  Right.

This job, teaching, it’s impossible.  It is not difficult, it is not challenging, it is not engaging, it is not anything as much as it is impossible.  On 99% of the days, it’s not at all related to the tiny humans or their behavior.  I love the tiny humans.  It is stress on a very practical level that sends me running for the hills.  My to-do list gets longer instead of shorter, every day.  Things fall off the bottom, never to return.  There are things that don’t get done in a timely manner, and there are things that just never get done.  And it’s not the unimportant things.  One small example, this year I have a few students on IEPs.  (Individualized Education Plans, that’s special education to you who don’t know the language!)  The responsible thing to do would be to go to their cum files, get their IEPs, and read them.  At least read the goals.  I am their classroom teacher, for crying out loud.  And it keeps falling off the bottom of my list.  It’s not an unimportant thing, knowing what these kids’ goals are.  It’s a very important thing.  And yet, it gets pushed aside by tasks that are more important, more urgent. 

I am not doing anything different from any other teachers that I know.  Everyone has more work than they have time to do.  Everyone has more problems than solutions.  And everyone has things falling off their lists.  But somehow, everyone else wants to be here, to be doing this.  I don’t understand what the difference is.  I don’t know how they can take the guilt.

Every single thing that falls off my list makes me feel like a bad teacher, a bad colleague.  I am letting someone down with each thing I can’t get done.  If I don’t read those IEPs, I’m doing those kids a disservice.  If I don’t score the running records I took today on one of my middle groups and use the information to plan the next lesson, I am doing those kids a disservice.  If I don’t get a birthday list printed out for the music teacher, which she asked me for several days ago, I’m dropping the ball and letting her down.  If I don’t turn in nutrition timesheets, I’m letting the nutrition grant people down.  Everything I did do today in the 10 hours I was at work…I can’t feel that.  I don’t even really remember it.  All I remember are the things I should have done.  All I feel is guilt.  I can’t take the guilt.

I had a conversation recently with my sister, a speech-language pathologist, who talked about how she likes teachers who ask questions and want to help their speech kids however they can.  I am that teacher…or I used to be.  I found out that when you start asking questions like that, people tend to give you more work.  I am now the teacher that plugs my ears and sings, figuratively speaking, so that I don’t know what I can do to help.  I don’t want to know about anything else I’m supposed to be doing, because I can’t possibly do any more.  I’m in the negative already considering what is required of me and what I can actually accomplish.  I don’t want to know any more ways that I am letting people down.

Part of me wants a job that doesn’t involve people.  I want to make things and sell them online, and not have coworkers to disappoint or tiny humans to fail to serve.  I was told yesterday that I could go into business sewing beanbags, and while that sounds like a pretty dull 8 hours a day, I’m tempted to give it a try.  If I was in the business of selling, if I didn’t get my work done, I would only be hurting myself.  As long as there were no coworkers or employees, no supervisor, and no commitment to a buyer of any kind.

That does sound like a very dull way to live, with no coworkers of any kind.  If you really know me, you know I’d last about 24 hours with no people around me before I agreed to be a blood drive nurse, or a cricket keeper at the zoo, just to be around other people!  (Needles and crickets…get it?)  (Though lately we may need to add wolf spiders to that list, and I have never really been afraid of spiders before…but that’s a story for another day!)

But I don’t know how much longer I can live like this, under the weight of this guilt.

{And to that end, I beg of you, if you care about me at all, you will not tell me I should be reading the IEPs.  I know that already.  I already feel like a failure, and it didn’t get the IEPs read.  You really don’t need to add to it, at this point.}

{{{More vacation pictures coming, I promise!  I would say “coming soon,” but I have these IEPs to read if I ever get a spare moment…}}}

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Grandma
    Oct 03, 2010 @ 21:03:48

    Just always remember that I raised my fmily feeling just as you do today. I can not think of another family that I would exchange for mine. And when you stop kicking yourself for what is impossible to do each day, you will realize that all GOD expects of you is the best you can do. My motto is do the thing that needs done worst first and keep pluggfing along.you are a wonderful grandchild and you will do just fine at whatever you find most important.

    Reply

  2. Mom
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 11:56:21

    Hang in there. It looks like your perfectionism is showing!

    Reply

  3. Mom
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 11:56:50

    By the way, ditto to Grandma’s comment.

    Reply

  4. Carla Ramsey
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 11:53:43

    Holy crap…did I just read my own blog? I’m in the same boat, kiddo. Mine isn’t so much guilt, as it is frustration for a lack of passion. I see all of these band directors out there who are amazing at what they do, and the kids are eating it out of their hands. Me…I struggle every day just to get out of bed and go to work. My students don’t really try; they do the bare minimum. They all expect that someone else will pick up the slack for them. Band isn’t a fun, inspiring activity to them. It’s a chore. It’s something they have to do. There’s no passion for it, no sense of fulfillment after a great rehearsal or performance. Instead, I get, “Do we really HAVE to do this?” “But it’s cold outside!” “Can we have study hall instead?” My coworkers are just as bad. Where do the kids get this behavior, they ask? Well, it doesn’t help that you’re modeling it for them! The lack of passion frustrates me to no end. I love music, but I’m seriously considering getting out of teaching before my passion for it is gone altogether. Or at least, going to a different grade level. I can’t keep doing this, maintain sanity, and care for a baby. So, I know how you’re feeling, kid. Know you’re not alone!

    Reply

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