I gave each of my teachers on the sixth grade team a small gift certificate and a bunch of stickers, and a little note of appreciation. We had a cake at our team meeting, and coffee. I have such low morale myself right now, but I really want to do every little thing I can to boost my teachers’ spirits. I got a lot of thanks back after that, and it’s funny because I feel so stuck in negativity and overwhelmedness, but I guess I’m doing all right from the point of view of others. Keeping our eyes on the big picture and the little victories feels so important. Showing appreciation feels so important. Meanwhile there’s a lot of complaining going on and it’s so inappropriate to be a part of it, but I get drawn in and then feel crappy because I should stay above it. The middle – not just a teacher, not an administrator – is a tough place to work. Every mistake I make feels magnified.

Everyone’s like, vacation will help. And it will. It will. But you can’t let the morale of your employees rest on the fact that every so often, just when the pressure builds up to that level, we get a week off. Can you?

And a colleague told me last night that he’d found my blog. I don’t know if he meant this one, though, there are old ones out there, too. He said he doesn’t read it. Blogging, especially when you’ve got a lot of big questions about life, is such a weird choice. Its easier to write honestly – in some ways – when you don’t really know most of your readers. Having my parents, a few friends, and now possibly others whom I work with reading this feels a little scary… but when I say that, I feel like Paris Hilton complaining about too much media attention: not convincing.

Still, it was an odd conversation, not helped, perhaps, by the fact that it was 4 hours into a night of celebrating the start of vacation in an Irish pub. And I walked away wondering how he found me, and what he takes away from it all, and why he googled me if that’s indeed what he did, or what the accident was if it was an accidental search result. And questioning, again, whether everything about keeping a blog might not be a mistake?

And also, while I’m questioning confessional mode, I may as well add to the confession: all my life, I’ve been this intense, hard-working, taking-things-too-seriously, a little wound up kind of person. But I’ve also been someone who tries new things, has wide-ranging interests, gets a lot done and done well, and so on. People who know me, know that, and the rest is just high school. And all my life, I’ve been told (mostly by people who DON’T know me well, to clarify for a commenter) that I need to relax, to take more risks, to go out there and have fun, to stop being so serious, etc., etc. There may be some truth to some of that, but I’m also really tired of hearing it from people who jump to conclusions about who I am and what I’m feeling, about how I should be, about what I need. And I thought, at 29, that maybe I was finally free of that kind of unasked-for psychoanalysis. So it’s upsetting to talk to someone I barely know and get grilled with such questions as, “What’s the last really crazy thing you did?” Like the solution to life’s stresses is just to get out there and do something crazy. Even if I knew what that meant. Because I go to art parties and rock shows and coach robotics and walk the whole length of Broadway and bake wedding cakes and keep a semi-secret blog and travel alone and laugh my head off with friends and stay out super late (once in a while) and party more than I should (once in a while) and date on-line and live in New York and teach in the South Bronx and give my phone number out to 12 year olds and every single one of those things counts as crazy in somebody’s book.

(Meanwhile, N. up and quit! Good luck to her!)



Filed under blogging, confession, education, midlife crisis, New York, teaching

7 responses to “Morale…

  1. R

    A lot of other education blogs link to you, so its probably not surprising that other teacher’s find you…

  2. “The middle – not just a teacher, not an administrator – is a tough place to work. Every mistake I make feels magnified.”

    Oh, I know I don’t write much about this issue in my own blog, but I certainly feel the same way. Having one foot in the classroom and the other in the administrative office can be perplexing and so very draining.

    I think about your recent posts often during the course of my day. They validate my concerns, my obstacles, and my fears.

    This holiday, I do hope you take some solace in the remarkable accomplishments you have achieved. Many of us read your blog in utter wonder.

  3. my sister

    I think if you write a blog there has to be some expectation that it could be read by someone you work with, that’s the nature of the beast. And along with that people are going to give you advice and reply to what you say if you put yourself out there in the way you do on your blog. Maybe if so many people are telling you to relax and have fun and be crazy, there is some truth in that. I think this could be the case if people who know you say that. In response to the part of your blog that says “I’m also really tired of hearing it from people who jump to conclusions about who I am and what I’m feeling, about how I should be, about what I need,” my question is, do you let people into who you are, let them know your weaknesses, what makes you tick, what the hardest life experiences have been for you, and what you’ve learned from them or are you quick to snap at people, hold yourself above other’s opinions and what they have to say, or not open to learning from others?

  4. iameduwonkette

    let me second yomister’s awe of you. every time i come here, i leave thinking “ms. frizzle is a goddess” – as much for how you live your life outside of the classroom (the photos, the Lego robots, the drawings, the tarts!) as for the amazing stuff you do inside. you make us think, and i’m really grateful for that.

  5. None of us will never be free of random, unsolicited pyschoanalysis. It makes sense that it would come from someone that doesn’t know you well because we all present a different side of ourselves depending on our relationship with a particular person at a particular moment in time. All you can do is be bemused, don’t validate their “analysis” and move on.

    We’re also much harder on ourselves than other people are, on us. So, you probably are doing more than just “alright”!

  6. Hi, I also get those comments, how I’m too much of a goody-two-shoes, too much the A student, over-achiever, etc. Now that I’ve gone a bit wild, people shake their heads in dismay. So you can never please your critics.
    I find that some periods of my life are ordered and balanced, and then come times of utter craziness, whether the outside world knows it or not. I think life would be boring otherwise. Both kinds of experiences can be productive for me as an artist. And blogging does help me make some sense, sometimes.
    kiss, kloe

  7. eiela

    I think sometimes “morale” problems ARE actually helped by getting a week off. It releases the pressure cooker of being next to that obnoxious teacher next door who constantly pushes your buttons until you just want to scream (or whatever school thing is getting under your skin).
    Time off gives you a chance to take a deep breath, and maybe deal with whatever is truly wrong in a calm way, instead of just venting and not getting anywhere (nothing wrong with venting sometimes–not saying that!)

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