Thoughts of teacher burnout, stress, and frustration swirl around in my head. I can’t help but think about our finite time, attention, and focus.
You lose control over your time at school. Those decisions are already made. Classes have to start and end. Staff meetings on Wednesday. And lunch break from 11:27 to 11:30.
Your attention is lost the same way. You can only pay attention to so many things in a day. Many things demand it whether we like it or not. You have grades, standards alignment, lessons plans, report cards, 504 paperwork, tutoring documentation, and figuring out how to keep wads of wet toilet paper off the bathroom walls.
But one thing you can’t lose is focus. Focus is more in your control. While time and attention are more outward facing, focus is an inward direction. You make the choice of where to put it.
So where should it go?
Your focus absolutely has to be on your students.
A student centered focus is the only thing that will get you through if you want to be a teacher for more than five years without killing yourself or others.
You need a through-line. You need something that transcends the microscopic view of a rough day or bad week. Teaching isn’t really about imparting knowledge. Teaching is about building better people. That’s the thread that must be woven through each day.
I thought my focus was on students. I know it was for a time. But somehow I drifted. Somehow my through-line became frayed and unraveled.
It’s an incredible skill to endure so much for your students. Some teachers are better at it than others. Some teachers don’t have to put up with as much. Some teachers put up with much more.
Don’t lose your focus.
Don’t lose your through-line.
Because if you lose your through-line, your reason for doing this whole teaching thing, you’re toast. Burnt toast.
What’s your through-line?