Thursday, February 14, 2013

Just Keep Breathing


'Tis the season.  The testing season, that is. For many of you, this is the home stretch before your state testing.  So much to cram in before the "big" day.  Students are getting wiggly, restless, and some are already thinking of summer break (a sweet kinder girl told me today that we have ten weeks left until summer break!). Wishful thinking!  More and more is being piled on your plate, energy is dwindling, time is ticking away much too fast, and sometimes you wonder if you can make it until June. Enter stress, anxiety, doubt, lack of confidence, worry, fear, exhaustion, energy depleted.  And that is just at work. 



Even though it has been years since I have had to "worry" and anticipate state tests, I vividly remember it. For 8+ years, I taught eighth grade language arts, a testing gradeIn the 1990's it not only meant our state test, but it also meant our state's functional tests for reading and writing. The pressure was on... the kids who had not already passed the functional tests were expected to in 8th grade... the benchmarks given each marking period, and then the grand finale~ the end of the year state assessment.

The next four years found me working as literacy/reading specialist. One of my responsibilities was to offer intervention and remediation for all the above mentioned tests.

So, I get it. I really get it. Even though I am no longer in the "trenches" (I have never liked that reference... it's as if every. single.day is miserable in the classroom, which most of us know is just.not.so).  And I also know that you don't have to have these "dreaded assessments" or be in a testing grade to feel as if the whole world is caving in. Teaching is an incredible passion for us.  We love what we do... we love the kids... we love our content.  But let's face it, it's exhausting... it can suck the life out of us.  We end the day feeling like we ran in circles, feeling guilty for what we did not accomplish, wondering if we are effective, and so on it goes. It is much like being a parent... at the end of the day when we reflect, we question the decisions we made and didn't make. We doubt ourselves sometimes.  We may begin to think/feel that we are just not very good at what we are attempting to do.  Being tired and sleep deprived makes it all the worse.



Sound familiar?  Feel like you are burned out, or are burning out?  Does any of this resonate with you?  It sure does to me.  But we are teachers.  And many of you, my sweet readers, are parents. We are strong.  We have "super powers".  We have endurance and perseverance. Then all at once it feels as if you're at the end of your rope. At your wit's end. 

 However, there is hope.  There is always hope. 

Slow down and breathe.  Just breathe.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is... just breathe.  I had a conversation with my principal a few months ago, and this is just a portion of the wise advice she gave me.  She also mentioned a song by Plumb, which is now one of my favorite Christian songs. 

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
by Plumb

This song ministers to my soul.  This song reminds me Who gives me strength to endure just one more minute, one more day, one more week.  It helps me to regroup, refresh, and to know that~
  
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
 Philippians 4:13

I can't "do it all" everyday.  And that is ok. As I visited my school today and a certain first grade class that has captured my heart, I was reminded of what is really important... loving our students, our children, taking time for hugs, smiles, high fives, and listening to them.  And just breathing.  Yes, the pressures are still there, but we must find a way to keep it all in perspective and to maintain our energy.

Speaking of energy, I am reminded of a conference I attended about 10 years ago where I was fortunate to hear Donald Graves speak about his new book, The Energy To Teach.  Not only do I respect his literacy research, but he has much to say on teaching, testing, what drains teachers, and what energizes them. If you are feeling drained, I highly recommend his book The Energy To Teach.  Click the pic below to see the listing on Amazon.  In my opinion, this book is a keeper, and one that I have read several times.
 The Energy to Teach

This post was longer than I intended, and if you are still with me and reading this, I thank you!  May your body, mind, and soul be refreshed.  How do you recharge?  How do you keep it all in perspective?  Please share your tips and comments!
 

4 comments:

  1. THANK YOU! Just what I needed today. I've wish listed the book and am going now to look up the song! I'm in the middle (hopefully toward the end) of a fibromyalgia flare-up on top of being a reading specialist at 2 schools (working with K-3), mom to three sons, etc. I'm worn out, but God can sustain me. I am really trying to make time to read His word each morning in a devotion, and do a Bible study later in the evening. THAT alone is helping me out tremendously!! Amazing how sometimes we put Him last and run out of steam, when all we need to do is keep Him FIRST and He will sustain us!!
    Again, thank you!!!

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  2. Hi Christi- First of all, thank you for stopping by and I am touched and humbled by your comments! The song lyrics are incredible and speak to me in such a personal way. You have a lot on your plate, esp with the fibro; my heart goes out to you! You are so right- God CAN and PROMISES that he will sustain us. I am guilty of trying to do it all myself and then running to Him when things are a mess. We do need to seek Him first and let our pride fall by the wayside... I'm reading a Nancy Leigh DeMoss devotional, "The Quiet Place" that I absolutely love. I have it on my Kindle Fire along with a Bible app; it makes reading the word a lot easier for us busy moms. You take good care! :-) Lauren

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  3. Great words of encouragement!! You are so sweet! I'm your newest follower.

    Brittany
    http://thesuperheroteacher.blogspot.com/

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  4. Thank you, Brittany for stopping by and for being a follower! :-) Lauren

    ReplyDelete

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