I have to jump through every single hoop to be valuable and worthy.
I’m not as good of a teacher as....
I am failing.
I need to do more.
No one appreciates me.
No one sees my hard work and dedication.
I can’t do all of this.
How many of these statements have you spoken in the last six weeks? How often do you chant these things in your head? How many of these things do you believe?
Listen, Linda. These. Are. Lies. And they can come from so many places. It’s easiest to blame the lies on others - rigid campus leadership, snarky staff members, critical parents, disinterested or malicious students. And let's get real: they sometimes do. Other times, however, the lies come from within. You want to be the best and do the best, so you’ve convinced yourself that to accomplish that, you must be all things to all people at all times. Lies.
Brace yourself for this next one. I’m gettin’ real. These lies come from the evil one. He loooooves the oppression that is presently sitting on the chest of public education. He rejoices in our exhaustion, our feelings of unworthiness, our anxiety, and our fears. He is owning us right now and he’s using laws, mandates, expectations, self-criticism, and doubt to keep it coming. Do you really want to give him that power?
So now let’s speak some truths.
You are exactly what these kids need at this very moment. Not a competitive or artificial version of you. There will be funnier teachers and more creative teachers. There will most definitely be cooler teachers. And there will be easier and harder and meaner and kinder.
You. Do. You.
Because whether or not you’re willing to receive this truth, I’m going to hit you with it… You are exactly what your kids need at this very moment.
Kids and parents and peers and administrators do appreciate you. They don’t take the time to say it, probably because they’re just as overworked and overwhelmed as you are. They feel so stifled by the infinite amount of work that they have that they haven’t a chance to breathe and notice anyone else’s – your – outstanding job. It’s not you. In fact, they feel you. They are you.
Not only are you cut out for this, you are fearfully and wonderfully made for this. You did not misread that yearning in your heart to bless kids. You do not misunderstand your own gifts. That yearning to love and bless kids and the beautiful gifts that you possess to do just that were placed there by the One who created you. Yes, the yearnings and the gifts are swallowed up by outside oppression – test scores, poverty, evaluations, expectations, discipline, critics – but they are there. And they’re not going anywhere. You just have to rediscover them. And that happens when you cut yourself some flippin' slack. Seriously. Hear me. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
The only truth in all of those statements is that you can’t do it all. That is actually true. So stop. Stop comparing yourself to other teachers. Stop checking every bloody box demanded of you by the powers that be. Don't grade that one stack of papers. Shoot, don't assign that one stack of papers. Spend a conference period walking the perimeter of your campus praying. (It's fall, people. You should get outside anyway.) Scratch ten of the forty questions on a test. Read one less piece of literature. (And if these suggestions make your cringe, then I am really talking to you.) Cutting yourself some slack does not make you a failure. It makes you sane.
The oppression, the evil one, the self-doubt, the lies - very real. So the question is, how are you going to manage them?
If you are not familiar with the “Listen, Linda” reference, for the love of all things holy, please watch this. You’re welcome.