I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately. It’s that frustrating phase when work and grading piles up while my life hops on a roller coaster. Students turned in research papers last Thursday. Please don’t ask how many I’ve reviewed yet. The answer is not enough. I need to tackle them soon, though, because I’ll receive another wave of assignments this Thursday, and we’re also trying to finish up Hamlet.
That’s enough to swamp any English teacher, but compounding everything is the fact that my own future is still up in the air. Decisions will be made soon. They haven’t been made yet, and until they are, I’m living in a constant state of distraction. I don’t know yet if I have my job next year. My students know that much already, so I can safely say that on the internet without discussing the details. I doubt they know how hard it is for me to stand up in front of them every day not knowing if I’ll be able to stay. I doubt they know how hard I’ve tried to keep myself from becoming attached to them, and how miserably I’ve failed at that. I doubt they see the number of times I swallow back my emotions while I teach.
How am I supposed to effectively grade research papers when my thoughts are constantly down in the administrative office, where the decisions will be made? Adding to my distraction, I received an angry-parent e-mail today, too. About the research papers, of course. The ones I haven’t finished grading yet. I wrote her back this morning, and I think I handled it well, but we may still need to have a meeting. Things like that are seriously distracting.
This is the side of teaching they don’t tell you about in college. Or if they do, you can’t really comprehend it. I knew I’d have to check my personal life at the door. Home problems belong at home; work problems belong at work. But these aren’t “home” problems. They’re professional. They’re related to my job. They’re personal, too, though. At least, the next-year’s-job-situation is, because it impacts my personal life in a big way if the decision isn’t in my favor. Yet I still have to put it all on the mental back burner while I stand up in front of students and teach each lesson. I hide my frustrations from my students because none of this is their fault. They don’t deserve a grumpy teacher just because I’m frustrated, overwhelmed, and distracted. So I put on the show of the prepared, happy teacher, and I hope that somewhere during the lesson I’ll actually forget the problems for a while.
But now, during study hall, which should be the same as a prep period for me, I can’t silence the distractions in my mind. I should be grading papers, but instead I’ve logged into WordPress and opened a new draft in the hopes that the mental catharsis will help me to focus once I finish this. If I get it all out in print, it won’t be running around in my brain anymore, right? Maybe then I’ll be able to look at a research paper and actually see it for its content and format, not as a page full of words dancing in front of me while my mind wanders through the e-mails of irate parents or downstairs to the offices where decisions are made.
I need to get a handle on this, because when you’re a teacher, work problems can’t stay at work. They come home in the form of 300 pages worth of research papers that need to be graded before Thursday. The more I get done now, the better it is for my sanity.
Thank you for allowing me to get that out of my system. Hopefully now I can dive back into all that grading and actually accomplish something.