I am a Cubs fan. My mother spent much of her life struggling with Multiple Sclerosis and it impacted her ability to do a lot of things. One of the things she always loved though was to watch the Chicago Cubs. Well, she didn’t always love it. To be honest, she cussed a lot about the Cubs. She was a relatively gentle lady, but when the Cubs were on a losing streak (which was often) she would cuss at the TV, she would cuss at anyone in the room, she would just flat out cuss. I guess that’s what made me a Cubs fan. I liked watching my Mom get worked up about a game and a team. As a Cubs fan I know a lot about slumps. So, I know a good teaching slump when I see one and I’m in one. It’s a doozy.
There are lots of reasons for my slump. The recent passing of my father, my attention on some of my new responsibilities in my building and catching this flu thing that is going around. But, that doesn’t make it OK with me and it’s got me frustrated. I have a very talented student teacher who is watching me go through this slump and that just adds to my angst. I wish I was showing off my best teaching for her. All I can do at this point is to be honest with her and with my students. Various collaborative groups I work with have been using the word vulnerable a lot this year. It’s a good word. I am finding myself having to be very vulnerable right now. I wish I could say that I am comfortable being vulnerable, but I can’t quite say that. I am learning to accept my vulnerabilities and work to improve on them; slowly but surely.
So, what do you when you’re in a slump? Usually I just come at each day with more energy and more passion, but that’s eluding me at the moment. I’m trying to plan a little better and be a little bit more meticulous about the things that I am able to control. That helps, but it isn’t pulling me out of the slump just yet. I really am a little stuck at the moment. In previous posts I have talked about how much less sure of myself I am now at 48 years old than I was 10 years ago. The more I learn, the less I am sure of. I have had the pleasure of watching lots of great teachers in the last few months and it has made me more thoughtful and more reflective for sure, but it also makes me a little jealous and a little insecure. I really am trying to use the things I see in my colleagues and use them to make my classroom a better place to learn. It works some days and other days not so much.
I write this to share with my young colleagues that the learning never stops. There won’t be a point in your career where it becomes easy (at least it hasn’t happened to me). I hope everyone knows that it’s OK to struggle. The intersection of work, family, friends and relationships can be a challenge; especially when you are faced with life changing events. But, you keep swimming. To my veteran colleagues I write all of this to say how much I admire your dedication. We’ve all seen hard days and yet we continue to dedicate ourselves to our work. What we do is important and it doesn’t stop when life gets hard.
I’ll get through the slump. I always do. Being self aware is a curse sometimes, but hopefully in the end it is a gift. I am hopeful that my self awareness will lead me to brighter days. In the meantime I’m going to push ahead and be the best I can. That’s what I ask of my students and I’m never disappointed when they do that for me. I’ll do it for them. As for the Cubs, I am hopeful that they will give me a reason to smile this spring. Somewhere my Mom is waiting eagerly to say something nice about them instead of cussing up a storm.