Putting Feelings Aside

My work week began at 5:36 AM Monday morning. I quickly turned off the alarm (I don’t think I have ever hit snooze in my life) and arose. As I walked to the bus 16 minutes later, I had a headache and felt groggy. For a moment, I thought it was Friday.

Three straight 5 hour nights later, and my long week is nearly over. This is my first 5 day work week in nearly a month, so I can’t complain. Well, of course, I can, but I don’t like complaining. I don’t even like hearing myself complain, so what’s the point?

Grades were due today. The first marking period is always rough. It includes less days, I take off days to celebrate the holidays, and the first few days are all about paperwork and diagnostics. Inevitably, there is a logjam of work at the end of the term.

To be blunt: my pass rate sucked! Students did not get the work done despite my extensions, pleadings, and phone calls. I am disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed. I can come up with many reasons why the students did not hand in their work. Ultimately, that is not comforting.

There is an old saying that if you reach one child then you are doing your job. It is a depressing saying and any teacher that cares would be disappointed with those types of results. I am more than confident that I have reached multiple students. It’s pretty easy to see when students want to hang out in your classroom just because that they feel comfortable. Still, it does not feel like enough. I am nearly certain that the school administration is not going to be content with that level of success either.

I can continue feeling bad, guilty, and complaining. However, I don’t want to. It’s not fair to me, my family, or my friends. I will put away the negative feelings (as best I can) and strive to enjoy my life. I don’t want to let the disappointment in one part of my life poison the other parts of my life. It is not easy to do – I am not talking about widgets here – but kids with families that love them and want the best for them.

Today as I walked to the subway, I enjoyed the beautiful weather. When October brings such a gorgeous day, it must be appreciated. Who knows how many more are left in the season?

So, you see I am learning a lesson from my students. They take bad news and seem bothered till the bell rings. At that point, they go through the halls slapping hands, talking, and laughing with their friends. In other words, they know how to put their feelings aside and enjoy the moment.

We all will worry about it till tomorrow.

I am looking forward to enjoying the night with my wife and kids.

36 thoughts on “Putting Feelings Aside

  1. I applaud you for being able to hit “pause” on the negative feelings. It is no easy task. But if you are able to leave this heaviness at your doorstep, then you and your entire family will benefit from this discipline. Still a struggle for me.

  2. You are a wise man. Truly. In addition to schoolwork, I imagine your students learn so much from you about life, priorities, gratitude and attitude. Here’s to enjoying the moment. Well done!

  3. It’s such a frustrating experience to feel like you’ve given people opportunity and they passed on it. I’m not very good at words of wisdom, but hang in there–other people’s choices do not mean you didn’t do your job.

  4. Give yourself a break, if the kids wantto hangout in your classroom you are doing a good job. When I was in school itwas teachers like you who motivated me to want to learn, my grades sucked because I was lazy but my mind turned into a sponge because of the lessons I enjoyed and the teachers passionate about their subject. I know the focus is often on grades, but for me personally the passion to learn has helped me far more in life than good grades could ever have done.

  5. I can relate to this – I’ve had the threat of bad news hanging over my head for a week, and sat down in the car on Monday praying that I’d be able to just not worry about it until it was announced. And when it was, it didn’t seem so bad. Sometimes, you just have to put it aside and let things go, at least when there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.

    And I share the sentiments of other users – I’m sure you’re doing a good job, so don’t beat yourself up over it!

  6. Teaching is a difficult profession so I commend you for your commitment to your students, but, you are right, you can’t let it affect the rest of your life. Enjoy your weekend.

  7. One thing I learned as a teacher is that you can’t make students want to learn or do the work required to pass the course. It is easier teaching at the college level, because you don’t have to deal with all that political junk in public schools, nor do you have to deal with regurgitative education so kids can pass the state exam. You did you part. You were there, prepared, begged, pleaded, and made the phone calls to parents etc. If the kid still fails, it isn’t because you failed, it is because they and their parents didn’t care enough to bother.

  8. I still stand up when people walk into a room to shake hands with them. If I walk into a room and people are seated I go over to each one individually, offer my hand in friendship, smile, and introduce myself. I have noticed most adults don’t stand up if they are sitting, and you walk into the room for the first time. Where did I learn to do this? I learned to stand up when a teacher came into our classroom, or if the principal walked in. I learned manners. I learned because there were consequences for bad behavior. I was not allowed to wear any old thing to school, polish my one pair of shoes to make them last, and iron my school clothes. I learned that I had to do my homework after dinner and before I watched tv. I learned that I had a certain time to go to bed. I learned to say yes, please, and thank you when speaking to an adult. I learned that my parents did not “side” with me and respected the voice of the teacher. I learned the rules of being human from my parents and teachers. Old fashioned? Take a look at the “new” world of America. I am 63 years old and remember to this day that I had to raise my hand in class to speak. We had consequences for behavior and mama did not run to the school to berate the teacher. Amen.

    • Some great lessons there. Those lessons could do many of today’s students a world of good.
      I hope that my students – even if they are not getting some of the technical lessons I am striving to provide them – are getting a sense of decency etc. from me. I very much believe that teachers are role models and it is essential that we strive to keep that in mind each and every day.
      Thanks so much for your comments.

      • I wish more teachers felt like role models. Many of them are just marking days until the next vacation. Of course, with all the interferance from the government, it makes a teacher’s job of actually teaching very difficult. Keep up the good work. Kids today need to see someone who can set a higher standard.

        • Believe me, I know when the vacations are. I am sure most people look forward to their next vacation.
          I wonder how good my work is if the students are not passing and therefore learning what I am striving to teach them.

  9. It sounds like you really care a lot about your students! We need more teachers like you! Keep up the good work! And, yes, – when at home, be at home! Enjoy all the beautiful moments with the family!

  10. I got stuck on your third sentence…”As I walked to the bus 16 minutes later, I had a headache and felt groggy”. You got ready in 16 minutes? Does that include grooming, eating breakfast and making the bed? How is that possible? Teachers are always my favorite. This blog post explains why.

    • My husband takes 15 minutes to get up, showered, dressed, his side of the bed made, and out the door in the mornings. Of course he has a beard, so shaving isn’t an issue. It takes him longer to get to work, about 20 minutes. He generally has everything ready to go the night before – including his briefcase and laptop for work. I generally get up and out of the door in about 25 minutes, less if I don’t bother with mascara. It can be done, it just depends on how prepared you are before you go to bed.

    • I am a machine! I do as much as possible the night before. If I could I would go to bed dressed like the 3 Stooges do. Anyway, I shower in the morning. I eat breakfast while on the go and don’t make the bed because I don’t want to disturb my wife, (she usually stirs anyway) and it is hard to do in the dark.

  11. Thats a tough situation for you. Though I am sure your students are learning from you whether their grades show it or not. Not so easy if you have Admin on your back though. But so glad to hear you can step away from it and leave it aside so that you can enjoy time with your family. We all need time away from the pressures to recharge.

  12. Hi,
    And I hope you had a very enjoyable night with your wife and kids. One of the hardest things to do is to accept our own limitations when helping or teaching others, at least it is for me. It is often that I reach out and help someone by giving advice or accompanying them to buy a big item, or helping them to find a cheaper apartment or training them in English or whatever and afterwards, I find out they have decided to do something else. And even though I know that their decision will cause them some difficulty and pain down the road, I have to accept it and keep moving on. Because of my faith, I am learning to cast all of my cares, learning that regardless, I am not in control of others and that the bottom line is, the final decision is theirs.
    Thus, I could identify with your plight because it is mine also. Yet, I keep on helping where I can, as I learn to cast all of my cares and anxieties on the God that I believe in.
    I enjoyed your article tremendously.

    • The weekend helped – somewhat.
      The second line you wrote – accepting limitations is so true. I wish the students would take advantage of the assistance offered but that ulitmately is up to them.
      I am confident that students get something out of the class and take comfort in that thought.
      I’m glad you liked the article.

  13. Such an important skill to have, being able to put feelings and worry aside from one aspect of our lives to focus on another aspect. Good for you for grasping and living that.

  14. You are a great teacher! One that does the right thing and do not compromise when it comes to grades. I have seen primary one teachers in my daughter’s school helping the weaker students in their term tests. They do this just so they can impress the principal and fellow teachers 🙁
    We certainly need more teachers like you 🙂

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