Frustration, negativity, and struggle are part of the teaching profession. Teachers: The Struggle is REAL. These are emotions we all have to deal with as teachers. So how do you deal with them in a wholehearted way without burying them or coming completely unglued and consumed by the struggle??
Care to watch the video version? Here you go!
Teachers: The Struggle is Real
Many days in our teaching careers, we’ll be brought to the edges of ourselves. In those moments the struggle is real. And in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the struggles are plentiful and painful! We are being stretched in ways we never imagined.
So, let’s just take a second to find clarity…what is “the struggle”? If you had to put your finger on what is really going on for you – how would you describe it?
To me, “the struggle” represents the internal battles we face as teachers:
- the battles between coming unglued and staying patient with your students
- the battles between wanting control and letting students run the learning show
- the battles between wanting to save money and wanting to buy more classroom supplies
- the battles between caring so much about students and not getting consumed by their problems
- the battles between implementing a District mandate and doing what you know the kids (or you!) need at that moment
These are the hardest battles to fight.
There are no easy answers to these battles, but finding your way to what feels right for you as an individual is the key to winning them. Which means we have to lean in and rumble with these moments of struggle so we can learn what they have to teach us and ultimately be transformed.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories:
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a chrysalis. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the chrysalis and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the chrysalis to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the chrysalis pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.
Did you catch that?
Without the struggle, the butterfly would never ever fly.
Here are some coaching questions I’d ask you to consider in this moment of struggle:
- What are you learning in the midst of your struggles?
- What are you uncovering about who you are?
- How are you becoming more like the person/teacher you’d like to become?
- What transformation is taking place in the struggle?
- What is important to you that can be a guiding star in this moment of struggle?
- What will you do next?
So struggle on, my friend. I know the struggle is real – but it’s also what transforms us to our most wholehearted selves.
Need someone to walk with you through this season of struggling? Check out the reasons why seeking a life coach might help you THRIVE in your Teacher Life!
All my love,
~Alison, A Teacher’s Best Friend