Thursday, March 24, 2011

At long, last, acceptance.....

Ever heard of the "Five Stages of Grief"?  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote in her book On Death and Dying about the five stages of grief people go through when faced with a catastrophic loss.  I told my fellow teachers that I have to come to realize, with some humor,  that coping with working at my school is like going through the five stages of grief.

Denial  This was me in September-- "Its not so bad...I can do this right?  These kids want to do well!  I can teach them if I figure out the right way to do it, right?  RIGHT?!?!"

Anger  Then came October and the student who threatened to punch me in the face and the Soul Crushing Administrator who didn't back me up.  I was furious! "How is it possible that I get no support from Administration?  This is ridiculous!  How am I supposed to teach effectively in this environment?"

Bargaining  January.  This was when I started saying "Okay, I'll just get through this year and then make a decision about what to do next year.  Maybe I'll apply in another county or at private schools."  It was also when I started bargaining with my students by starting Raffle Day, i.e., "You attempt to behave like human beings and I'll give you candy."

Depression  This set in late January/early February when I was recovering from pneumonia, facing a pretty major family crisis, my students did poorly on the SOLs and I found out I wasn't eligible for a transfer to another school for three years.  Pretty much that was the lowest point in the year and its when I decided that if I didn't go on a tropical vacation, I might have a nervous breakdown.

Acceptance  This is where I am now with just 10 weeks to go in the school year.  Kubler-Ross says this is the point where one says "Its going to be ok.  I can't fight it, so I might as well do my best to deal with it."  Its a relief to be here, although somewhat sad that I have accepted that generally my students are going to do the bare minimum and expect maximum results, the parents either don't care, blame me or have no control, and worst of all that Administration has the same attitude as the parents.  But....accept it, I have.  I'm okay with it all.  I've figured out how to cope with it--I have good friends at work, I joke about it, try desperately not to take it all to heart, try to have fun, get as much sleep as I can, and try to focus on the handful of students I have who actually want my help.  Most important, I have come to have some confidence in myself as a teacher. I really am doing the best I can and I accept that it is all I can do. 


  1. Don't forget that you are a GREAT teacher!

  2. Great description of an interesting, if not always rewarding, year! Thanks for sharing...

  3. Thanks to both of you! Truly, support makes or breaks a teacher's sanity. What I don't get from Admin. is balanced out by great friends, family and coworkers (except Mr. I who insists on leaving me next year!!)