By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I have about three months left in the classroom until I retire. I hope I can make it. It’s close…so close, yet seems so far away.
I have loved teaching; I’ve loved my kids, but I am so done with administrative decisions that devalue the human being in front of that classroom. I know every single job has its drawbacks and there are those ridiculous things that irritate a person everywhere they go. I’m not alone.
I am sure that part of my current negative attitude is more due to the fact that I’m about to be able to walk away than that my workplace is unbearable, because it is in no way unbearable. I love my admins in my school, my co-workers, my students, and my classroom itself.
And if this was a normal year, without Covid, it would certainly be better. But, y’all. I am exhausted just thinking about these next few weeks. This has been the most difficult year of my career.
Tell me if I’m being petty or ridiculous. It won’t hurt my feelings.
I have to be in my classroom or on duty to supervise kids at 6:55. I have first block planning, so I don’t have a class until 9:05, but that first block planning is often taken over by meetings, trainings, and on rare occasions covering another class. We will give the ACT test in two weeks and I won’t have a planning period then, but, mostly I have first-block planning.
My first class is at 9:05 and runs until 10:40. Next class, 10:45 – 12:15. At 12:15 students have lunch and beginning this week they will eat in my classroom as we attempt to make-up those snow days. I am required to have some instructional video or activity for them during this lunch period. And I must, of course, be in the room to supervise. Then my last class comes in at 12:40 – 2:15.
I have to go from 9:05-2:15 without a restroom break, unless I call someone, anyone, to come relieve me for a minute.
Not so bad, you think? Right? Hey, at least your day ends at 2:15, right? No, not right.
Papers must be graded, lessons prepared, presentations done, copies made for the next day. Grades must be entered into the online gradebook, and then you have parent conferences or calls to make. There are the Behavior Tracking Forms to be filled out, emails to be read and responded to, and other random paperwork that comes across my desk. Time must be made to meet with or check on my mentor students. And don’t forget the cleaning and sanitizing because of Covid that needs to be done to the computers and desks.
Truly, I’m exhausted.
I honestly know on some level that it’s because I know the end is nigh, but really, it’s so easy to feel like the tasks just keep piling on. Nothing is ever taken away, just more piled on.
Okay, so I’m venting.
I think it’s really best that I retire now, at 25 years, rather than go to 30 years for a little more money. I don’t think I have the tolerance or the energy to do all of this. I’m not sure I’m giving my students my very best anymore.
And that breaks my heart.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport, at Medium, and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.