Moral Support

When things fall apart, you are not alone.

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Maybe it’s the stack of grading that you said you would get to later…and that was three weeks ago.

Maybe it’s the difficult student situation coming to a head.

Maybe your home life is falling apart, and the chair of your department just put you on three more time consuming, mandatory committees.

There’s a lot of ways that things get away from us.

Sometimes you step into your office and already feel like you are drowning, and that’s before you check your e-mail.

You are not alone.

I find that I start to lose it a bit this time of year.  The excitement of the semester has started to wear off.

Papers and projects come in from all classes that need extensive feedback, and I am so tired.

Tedious tasks that I’ve pushed aside because they were not important suddenly become pressing.

Students want letters of recommendation, or to talk about why they need an A instead of an F in this class, despite the fact I have not seen them or their work in weeks.

It can feel like too much.  I see you.  I hear you.

When things like this happen, I do three things.

  1. Rely on my systems.  This is when current me is high fiving past me for setting things up like grading comments and canned e-mail responses.  (Still have not done anything like that?  It’s never too late to start. Pick one thing that will give you the most payoff for your time investment.)
  2. Prioritize like it’s my job, because it is!  Everything can feel like a priority, but it’s really not.  Really. I promise!  What is going to get the most work off your plate?  Do that first. (That three week old pile of essays, for example!)  Say no to everything that you can right now.  Order pizza on your way home. It’s going to be okay.
  3. Talk to other teachers.  Teaching can be such an isolating profession, and when you can’t keep it together, it can feel like you’re the only one. I promise that you are not.  I remember finally telling someone that my entire (very, very small class) was going to fail.  I was worried. I was stressed. Mostly, I was embarrassed.  I thought I was a good teacher.  How did my class fall apart like this? I’ll never forget my colleague’s response.  “This has never happened to you before?  Let me tell you about the horrible time when…” and suddenly, my despair lifted.  I still did not feel awesome about that class, but there was less shame.  I was not alone, and I promise, you are not either.

Hanging in there? Let’s hang out in the comments.

2 thoughts on “When things fall apart, you are not alone.”

  1. Catherine – I feel you! While I am not teaching this semester, the daily demands have added up and with the new Section 508 Refresh approaching, stress and frustration is at it’s peak. I tend to take a walk to the library and read a book for 30 minutes; that peace and quiet away from my desk really helps me get back on track. I also love to chunk things together; I’ll work on one project for 1.5 hour and set a timer. The satisfaction of watching the timer go down and having something tangible at the end is satisfying…I also find that my best work comes from a deadline. Hugs and love to you, I feel your pain…just take one minute at a time and don’t forget to make time for yourself. ~Anna

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    1. Hi Anna! Setting a timer is such an excellent idea, as is getting away from your desk. Taking a quick walk outside around the building has quelled many budding panic attacks for me. I find that taking a break is important, especially when it feels like you don’t have time to take a break.

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