Today was the hardest day of the year so far
Today was the hardest day of the year so far. I completely lost control of my 8th Grade class, and had to call for support staff from the office after two of my students left the room.
After class, I was on the verge of tears. My eyes were welling up with sadness. This experience has caused me to take a moment to pause and reflect on how things are going with this new, demanding job.
I want to think about the positive aspects of what I’m doing as well as the negative. I truly love my students. I feel that they are all wonderful people, and the thing that actually gets me down the most is seeing that there is little hope for some of them to heal from their already difficult lives, even now, by the time they are twelve and thirteen years old.
I really enjoy working with the students when they are feeling up to work and learn. They are bright and funny, and I have already shared many deep satisfying laughs with some of them this year. They brighten my soul some of the time. I really truly care about their future, as I see their future as inextricably linked with mine. I think this is true. Soon enough, they will be out building the world along with me as adults, so I care. Not only the selfless, compassionate care that I feel for them and their lives as individuals, but also a self-interested care of wanting to live in a world of kind, respectful, and perhaps even humble people. I want to live in a world where people understand each other, and show each other respect in all times and seasons. I want to live in a world where people care for each other, not because we’ve earned it, but because we all deserve to be cared for and love. I really believe that, from the bottom of my heart.
That’s why I am a teacher. Because I feel that teaching and education is one of the strongest paths to success, respect, and kindness in the world.
On the downside of my experience, I now notice that I have been extremely miserable since I started my new job. On the whole, I feel more suicidal and depressed than I have in years. I wrote a suicide note my second week of school. This is not healthy. The current status of my working life is not sustainable for me. I fear strongly that my feelings of hopelessness and despair will overcome me and I will literally not survive.
There are so many problems with the educational system. Ignorant, bossy, and domineering administrators such as my own Principal set the tone for a fearful and negative culture and school. From the top down, the state dictates unreasonable one-size-fits-all standards that my students cannot live up to. Perhaps they could meet the standards of the state, but I feel that it would be at the cost of all of our well-being. They will be hopelessly stressed out trying to live up to the expectations and so will I. I do no think it is practical to expect 7th graders to understand the Bill of Rights, Constitution, Branches of Government and so forth, if most of them cannot even define simple vocabulary words such as “separate” and “rights.” How can they understand what the term “legislature” means? They don’t have the understanding of sentence structure and grammar to comprehend a definition in the dictionary! This is none of their fault! I know this very well; it is the fault of all of the adults of the world who continue to neglect and abuse children!
As a society, we do not support education, which is why we rank 29th in the world in grade school ed. I understand why! Most of us were not well-educated and resented our educations, therefore many of us have grown inimical to the entire idea of education, opting to elect leaders who focus increasingly on military spending and tax cuts for the rich! There are so many systemic problems in education in the U.S. What I have said here is only the tip of the iceberg.
Who am I to stand alone against this yawning tide of indifference, hostility, and apathy towards our nation’s children and the future of humanity? I cannot do it alone, and I do not perceive my colleagues at my middle school to be of like mind to me. If they ever were, most of them have abandoned their ideals in favor of pragmatism, in the face of crushingly inefficient and backwards educational institutions.
How do I feel? I feel lost, confused, bewildered, angry, afraid, sad, lonely, indignant, and impotent. I knew it was going to be a hard job, but I did not anticipate feeling this way on a daily basis. Yes, working and advocating for the children of our future is a worthy, perhaps the most worthy, goal. It is a lofty and noble ideal that gives me great pride to think that I have the courage to participate in the struggle for the rights of children. However, what good am I to them if I am so crushed by the futility of my efforts, that I die of suicide? I am no good at all if I am dead. My own favorite teacher committed suicide. I wish he hadn’t! I wish he was still here and that I could call him on the phone and say, “Mr. D, Mitch, you were the best teacher I ever had, and I love you for that. I need your advice, as I respect you more than anyone.” But I can’t. He is dead, crushed by the wheel of suffering that we all try to dodge in our lifetimes.
I’m not so sure that the worthy goal of helping children is worth sacrificing my happiness and health for. So far, it seems to be a choice between misery and nobility.
Perhaps I could survive this sad spectacle if I could find some way to not let the horror of it all get to me so much. If I could somehow detach from the sadness of the futility of it all, while still helping the kids. But how can I care for them if I don’t feel for them? It seems like a total paradox.
I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to do anything rash. If I quit now, after only a month, I will feel shame. I have quit many things in my life and I have never been able to commit to a single career for very long. Sometimes I feel like my opportunity for a good life is slowly slipping away, that each time I quit something to start all over, I give up some of my chances for success. Sometimes I wonder if perseverance is the real path to success, but then I also wonder if persevering through misery is simply masochism cloaked in the noble garb of determination….
I am at a loss as for what to do…I need help, fast.