I have sat down this Saturday afternoon after our first five-day school week of the year. To put it succinctly, I am exhausted. It always takes a few days to get back into the routine of a busy, teaching schedule, but this year, things are piling up more quickly than in the past. Going into school early and staying late is seeming to do little to alleviate the burden and adds to feeling drained, but I press on. Is it a function of age? Maybe. Is it a function of fitness? Probably. It is a problem, though? No. I will spend most of my weekend wrapping up things from last week and getting things ready for the next.
From time to time I reflect upon what I am doing and decide that I like it, it all still makes sense, and I convince myself that I am still making a difference; I think I matter in my school. I assume that I matter in my professional community; but I know I still matter in my classroom. That space in which I spend eight, ten, or sometimes more hours of my day is still a fun and interesting place for me. My students seem to like the lessons, they learn and grow, and some even choose to come back for more fun and learning after school. So I continue.
This weekend I will spend a large portion of my time on the necessary academic matters: planning lessons, grading papers, and producing materials. I will also spend a good portion of my time on extra-curricular activities: an active Latin Club, with its activities, fund raisers, convention, and certamen teams. Reluctantly though, I find myself spending more and more of my time trying to meet the requirements of the school, district, and state administrations in trying to prove that I am an effective teacher and that my students are actually progressing. This proof comes in the form of specified assessments, now moving into the realm of common and shared tests and exams, the collection of data in each child in a variety of modes, and the creation of artifacts to illustrated quickly and easily to all who care to look the meaning of it all. This is what makes me tired. All else I do out of love and because I have to meet my own expectations.