Two hours ago, two of my teacher friends on Facebook shared a link “The Starving Baker for Teachers“. Any thing about a bakery, analogy or not, is too tempting to resist, so I too, clicked on it and read it. It turned out that it was a very honest and sensibly-written article. Given that our Young Adults’ Fellowship sharing last Friday evening was about how new working adults (like ourselves) could learn to cope with the pressure and nature of our jobs, it felt very apt and telling that Someone was trying to push my life into shape.
So are we starving bakers, my teacher friends?
The two main concerns I had shared on Friday evening are these. That first, I am struggling with a heavy dose of self-doubt. I imagine myself thrown into the washer and being tossed and turned, left and right, up and down, as I debate this question. Am I an effective enough teacher? There are so many things I would have done, thought, or said differently if I had a second chance. Just last week I began to understand how some parents feel so inadequate when it comes to bringing up their adolescent. I feel the same way as a teacher too, sometimes. Now that the examinations are drawing near, I feel very nervous for them boys and girls. Are my AFL strategies not clear enough for me to know for sure how much they have learned? If I had taught well, I should not be worrying about whether or not they have learned. I should already know. Gulp. Why is it I still have problems controlling the class? It is not fair to the other boys and girls who truly are ready to learn. And how can a good teacher strike off her students and say they are not ready to learn? Should not we be responsible to make them eager to learn?
Secondly, my concerns at the workplace is taking a toil on my spiritual life. Church and meeting up with friends and family is not a chore, but there are moments when I am just a very empty shell. My exercise regime is nonexistent, and the promise of firing it back to life during the school holidays seem more a myth than anything else. How can I run on just water – taking occasional personal breaks and treating one to coffee while marking – without bread?
This article is really well-written because the author does offer some rather constructive strategies to cope with the onslaught of pressure at work. We need to set out guidelines and markers, and guard those times of solitude and rest, and make sure we are re-energized and helped before we continue to fight the arduous battle at work. As noble as it might sound, we are not very different from self-centred narcissistic bakers who like others to watch us waste away while engaging in the most high task of self-sacrifice.
I need to guard my personal rest time, with God and with friends. I need also to know for sure what kind of person I want to grow to become. I don’t just want to become a good teacher (oh that cannot be my whole life). I also want to become a good daughter, sister, friend and in future, partner and wife and mother. I need to read books more than just the English textbooks, and surf websites more than just Facebook and teaching strategy websites. I need to think of how to help others, not only how to teach my lessons.
Now this article has really gone viral on Facebook among us teacher friends. I can only pray and hope we take time to rethink our lifestyle and how we can better structure it for a more sustainable and joyous life as a teacher, Christian and friend. No less passionate or effective. :)