Friday, September 25, 2009


This first month of school has really made me think about stress and coping. I have heard the research that shows teaching is second in stress only to air traffic control. This is due to the constant decisions we must make every second. You know, all of the crazy management stuff - this kid has to go to the bathroom, that one has a stomach ache, the other one is poking his neighbor, the one next to that one is picking his nose and eating it - and you are supposed to be teaching. Let's not even get started on all of the decisions we make during a lesson!

But that kind of stress doesn't really get to me; at least I don't think it does. What gets me is the politics. Paulo Freire said, "Education IS politics." It's so true, and on so many levels. Of course there is all of the usual garbage at the state and federal level, not to mention the district. But it's the stuff that happens on site that I think is the most stressful and really takes its toll on teachers. When people forget why they are teachers in the first place and begin to focus on utilizing their positions for questionable reasons, it can have devastating effects. When I see these things happen, I always think back on my friend Judy Lewis, who was a teacher/trainer in my district. She would always ask the question, no matter what issue we were wrestling with, "How is this going to help kids?" I try to keep that focus, but it is very difficult at times.

As Susan Ohanian puts it, "Let's stop focusing on the hole and pay more attention to the bagel." Good advice indeed.

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