Friday, November 23, 2012

Year 3: Week 11 - Teacher Marathon

Most of the time I’m a teacher from 7am-4pm. Sometimes when there’s a concert, my day can last longer like from 7am-9pm. The longer days are tiring but they don’t happen very often so it’s not a big deal.

The times when I’m a teacher I have to be more careful about what I say and what I do. When I’m at school I’m constantly watching to see what kids are up to so I can jump in if an issue comes up. So even when I’m not “teaching,” I still “on” and I have a responsibility to be a role model and take care of students in my school.

A couple weeks ago we took our fifth graders on an outdoor education retreat. We brought about 55 kids and 13 adults on a three-night/four-day adventure. This is a great trip that allow us to work with kids outside of the context of the school and challenge them with unique and meaningful activities. Instead of sitting back and letting the staff at this place take control, we take an active role in the teaching and lead most of the activities.

Teaching students, eating with them and sharing a cabin with them at night, meant that I was a teacher from 7am-midnight. Even when I was sleeping, I still had responsibilities, if a kid needed anything in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, this was exhausting.

It’s kind of like a “teacher-marathon.” The sleep deprivation and the depletion of patience places teachers is a challenging place. This is the kind of situation that separates the amateurs from the pros. Either you go crazy and say something to a student that you will later regret or you figure out ways to deal.

For example, after spending a night with the six boys in my sleep group, eating breakfast at a table of all girls is refreshing. Making jokes about situations with other teachers helps a lot and there’s nothing like a mini-rant to let off some steam. Then there’s simply balling up your jacket placing it on a table and burying your face in it (screaming is optional).

The thing is that it is totally worth it.  The kind of experiences that we provide for our kids at this trip are profound.  It takes so much out of the teachers but the kids get more than we will ever know out of our efforts.  How do I know this?  Well, the same way that I know I'm making a different every day as at teacher: faith.

So go on a retreat or a lock-in or some kind of situation when you have to spend long periods of time as a teacher.  While I am glad that there is only one of these trips a year, I'm looking forward to next year's trip and running this marathon again. 

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