The beginning of the school year is tough. 25 new students, new parents, new curriculum, new assessments, new schedules... All the newness means that there is always something to do, and it's exhausting. Like so many teachers, I work many hours every day and often on the weekend. And although every new year is like this, this year seems worse. Perhaps what makes this year different is knowing that I am doing more work and working more hours, but thanks to the General Assembly, I am being valued much less. (And of course not getting paid any more.)
I truly believe that it is becoming more and more difficult to be a teacher. There are more demands and higher standards, yet teachers have less support. Without support, great teachers will leave for other professions. Many already have. That is why it is so disheartening that the the General Assembly isn't supporting us. But we can't wait on them to get their act together. It's a long time until we go vote in November 2014, so teachers have to stick together and support each other. We can't underestimate how much a little bit of support can help.
My school is a great example of how support can go a long way. Working there has taught me how important it is for teachers to feel supported. Teachers at my school are supported by parents, other teachers, and administrators. You can walk into my school only once and know that the teachers love their jobs and believe in the children they teach. You can feel the energy and respect. Working in a place like this makes it much easier to focus on the students rather than the terrible things that are going on in the General Assembly. And even though those terrible things still exist, for the ten hours every day that I am in my school building, I feel happy and proud that I am in this profession and I don't want to choose anything else. (It is when I read the news and am forced to think about what is happening that I start to feel frustrated.)
The lesson I've learned in these first 13 days of school is to lean on the people who will support you. A little bit of support will go a long way. It won't make the problems go away, but it will certainly help you feel better. When you feel better, it is easier to focus on your job and your students. And there is no question that the students we teach need our support more than ever. So if supporting each other will make a difference to our students, let's do it!