Excused Absence

This past semester was difficult…really difficult. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to teach without the feedback from students…teaching into a void of seeming nothingness. Teaching and really getting nothing back. It was weird and, at times, really felt like a waste of time. I began to feel the impact in November and I decided to take a step back from writing and Twitter. It was all I could do to be motivated enough to teach everyday. I just didn’t have the mental energy to invest in anything else, really. And, for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t feel like trying to get better as an educator. Normally, I constantly seek out new studies, strategies, and books to read in an attempt to improve instruction in my classroom.

But, this semester, I was stagnant.

At first, this really bothered me. I am not one to give up or be content with just being okay at something. I want to push on and be better. But, I just didn’t have it in me to continue investing in getting better when I wasn’t sure what better looked like/felt like in the virtual/face-to-face/hybrid environment. In a way, I gave up on my development and my professional development. But, I had to. If I didn’t, I’m afraid I would’ve majorly burned out; making things really bad for myself, my students, and my family. 

That being said (or written), I survived with a mostly positive attitude. The step away from social media and development was the correct decision for me. I was even able to invest in my health a little more while I was ‘gone’. I got into running while I was in college playing soccer. I was pretty decent at the odd weekend 5k/10k and even worked my way up to a couple of marathons. However, after my wife and I decided to start our family, priorities changed, and running wasn’t far enough up the list. Now that my kiddos are old enough to basically exist without constant parental guidance, I’m getting back at it and loving the running. So, in a weird sort of way, I guess there was at least one positive during this past semester.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m not really sure, to tell the truth. I’ve been absent for a couple of months on Twitter and my blog and I’m just feeling like I want to step back into those worlds. I guess this is an easy blog article to write and I somewhat feel like I owe it to my readers to let them know where I’ve been (Also, I trust you, the reader. I know that you’ll ‘get it’ and more than understand what I’m trying to say). To say that I’ve missed the professional interactions with you is a fact, but I also know that I needed the time away. And like I stated earlier, at first I felt guilty for what may be seen as a selfish decision to pump the brakes on devoting my planning time and hours after my kids went to bed to reading and development. But, I soon realized that it wasn’t selfish…it was necessary for professional and personal survival. I’m actually quite proud of myself for pausing and placing my personal well-being in a place of priority. Honestly, it’s not something I thought I would ever be able to do without enduring a mountain of guilt…I think this is something all educators probably experience and understand. 

I’m really hoping the new semester has a different energy and that I’m not worn down by teaching in 2021. I’ve got some good blog posts in draft form that I want/need to finish and I really miss hunting down interesting research articles on classroom practice. I miss the pursuit of creating the most effective and efficient classroom. Mostly, though, I miss having a classroom full of kids. I miss lecturing, instructing, and classroom discussions that I’ve found give me so much energy and encouragement. I can’t wait to get back to all of that…when it’s safe. 

Sorry that I’ve been absent. I hope it’s excused.

Feature Image by Bui Hoang Lien on Unsplash.

6 thoughts on “Excused Absence

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  1. Great to have you back. I guess you don’t hear it enough but YOUR posts have helped many of us make it through. I’m exploring adding ranked multiple choice this spring. (I post later what drove me to this). “Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourself.” Many have struggled through this time. Some of of thrived due to resources and opportunities to try new things. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you will be back in a classroom before you know it.

    Looking forward to future discussions.

  2. Welcome back. I also experienced sadness and frustration over not being able to connect well with my students. After spending hundreds of hours last summer and during the fall learning and applying many new technologies in my classroom, I was close to burnout. I love the energy I get from being in a classroom of high schoolers. It’s like the life blood of a teacher. To suddenly be deprived of this and try to reproduce the same dynamic online has been exhausting and frustrating. I try to remember that for our students this difficult time feels much bigger, as a year is a long time for a young person, measured as percentage of their life. Giving “grades” has been the terrible icing on a bitter cake this year, with many more students than usual earning a D or F, even after applying “minimum (50%) F’s”. This pandemic has shown us many weaknesses in our system, not the least of which is how we educate our young. I look forward to reimagining education with my fellow educators as we re-merge from this pandemic shutdown. What a wonderful thing it will be if we are able to redefine what constitutes an education and reshape how we go about providing that education to all students.

  3. I always enjoy your writing and musings on Twitter/Facebook/blog. Welcome back! We are all in the same boat. The past year has been tough for us teachers, but I always come back to: it could be worse. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Cheers!

  4. Everyone needs a break sometime! Good on you for listening to your body and your brain. I didn’t answer mail during the week between Christmas and New Years, and I feel so refreshed from it. Now I’m slowly ramping back up. And yeah, we’ll get back in our classrooms eventually. Until then, we make the best of it.

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